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UPDATE – Coronavirus: French health minister and WHO issue warning over taking anti-inflammatories

France's health minister Olivier Véran warned the public on Saturday that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and cortisone could be an aggravating factor in coronavirus infections.

UPDATE - Coronavirus: French health minister and WHO issue warning over taking anti-inflammatories
Photo: AFP

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“Taking anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, cortisone…) could be an aggravating factor for the infection,” Véran tweeted.

“In case of fever take paracetamol. If you are already on a course of anti-inflammatories or if you are in doubt then consult your doctor,” Véran added on Twitter.

His tweet was rapidly retweeted thousands of times with many members of the public asking for further information and a source for his reasoning.

France recently tightened the sale of ibuprofen and paracetamol due to the potential dangers associated with the drugs. The drugs are only sold behind the counter in pharmacies.

Paracetamol must be taken strictly according to the dose, because too high a dosage can be very dangerous for the liver.

Since the announcement the French government has decided to limit the sale of paracetamol in pharmacies due to a rise in demand.

From now on people without symptoms will only be able to buy one box and anyone with sympoms can buy two.

According to Le Figaro newspaper ibuprofen can aggravate existing infections that can lead to “complications”.

The newspaper continues: “Inflammation is a normal response from body to infection and it's an alert signal.

“By masking the response of the immune system taking anti-inflammatories can not only impair the body's response but also hide the signs of how serious it can be. This can delay the diagnosis and therefor treatment.”

According to Dr Annie Pierre from the centre of pharmacovigilance in Tours: “tests in animals showed that taking ibuprofen encourages the growth of certain bacteria.”

Last April France's Medicine's agency ANSM released a report that suggested anti-inflammatories had an aggravating role when it comes to infections.”

The French Minister's advice was then backed up by the WHO on March 17th.

The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms should avoid self-medicating with ibuprofen.

The warnings followed a recent study in The Lancet weekly medical journal that hypothesised 
that an enzyme that is boosted when taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.

Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva that the UN health agency's experts were “looking into this to give further guidance.”

“In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important,” he said

On Friday France's Health Minister Veran said: “The spread of the virus across our territory is accelerating, especially in certain regions.”

He urged the public to limit contact and travel and to wash hands regularly as the death toll ion the country rose to 79.

“Respect social distancing, acknowledge someone rather than greet them physically, keep a metre distance and limit non-essential travel as well visits to the most vulnerable,” he said.

****

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

Injuries and even deaths while skiing in France have seen a sharp rise in recent years - leading the French government to create a new ski safety campaign.

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

The early part of the ski season in France was dominated by headlines over the lack of snow in popular mountain resorts – but, now that climatic conditions have started to improve for skiers and there is at least some snow, the winter sports season is in gearing up to hit full swing.

READ ALSO Snow latest: Have France’s ski resorts reopened?

Heading into the winter holiday season – French schools in ‘Zone A’ break up for two weeks on February 4th, followed on February 11th by schools in ‘Zone B’, while schools in Zone C finish for the vacation on February 18th – the government has launched an awareness campaign highlighting skiing good practice and how to avoid accidents.

READ ALSO What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

The Pratiquer l’hiver campaign has advice, posters and videos highlighting safety on the slopes, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents on France’s mountains – where, every year, between 42,000 and 51,000 people have to be rescued, according to the Système National d’Observation de la Sécurité en Montagne (SNOSM)

The campaign, with information in a number of languages including English, covers:

  • on-piste and off-piste safety advice (signalling, avalanche risks, freestyle areas, snowshoes, ski touring, etc.);
  • Help and instructions for children explained in a fun and educational way (educational games, games of the 7 families to be cut out, safety quizzes, advice sheets for sledding, skiing, prevention clips, etc.);
  • physical preparation (warm up before exercise, prepare your muscles and stretch well, also how to adapt the choice of pistes and the speed to your physical condition);
  • equipment and safety (helmet, goggles, sunscreen, etc.);
  • marking and signalling on the slopes (opening and marking of green, blue, red and black slopes, off-piste).

There are 220 ski resorts in France, the world’s second largest ski area, covering more than 26,500 hectares of land, across 30 departements.

In the 2021/22 ski season, totalling 53.9 million ‘ski days’, according to SNOSM, emergency services made 49,622 interventions in France’s ski areas, and 45,985 victims were treated for injuries.

The results show an increase in the number of interventions by ski safety services – a rise of 13 percent compared to the average of the five years prior to the pandemic – and the number of injured, up 8 percent. 

A few incidents on the slopes made the headlines at the time, including the five-year-old British girl who died after an adult skier crashed into her in the Alpine resort of Flaine, and the French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who died at the age of 37 after an accident while skiing in La Rosière, Savoie.

In total, 12 people died as a result of skiing incidents in France in the 2021/22 ski season. Three died following collisions between skiers, two after hitting an obstacle, and seven as a result of a fall or solo injuries. SNOSM also reported “a significant number of non-traumatic deaths, mostly due to cardiac problems” on France’s ski slopes.

The injuries due to solo falls – which represent 95 percent of all injuries –  on the ski slopes increased 2 percent compared to winter 2018/2019. Collisions between users fell, however (4.8 percent against . 5.6 percent) as did collisions between skiers and other people, and obstacles (0.7 percent compared to 0.85 percent).

The number of fatalities caused by avalanches, however, is at a historic low over the period 2011 to 2021, in part because of a relative lack of snow – leading to a drop in the number of avalanches and fewer people going off-piste, while awareness campaigns are hitting their mark, according to SNOSM.

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