Intensive care units ‘will be almost full by next week’ warns Paris hospital chief

Intensive care units 'will be almost full by next week' warns Paris hospital chief
Martin Hirsch, head of the Paris hospitals group AP-HP. Photo: AFP
Intensive care units at Paris hospitals will be packed with Covid-19 patients as soon as next week, the system's chief warned Tuesday, ratcheting up expectations that President Emmanuel Macron is preparing tougher measures to slow the surge in cases.

“It's inevitable,” Martin Hirsch, the head of the 39 hospitals in Paris and its suburbs, told the Parisien newspaper.

“By around October 24th, there will be a minimum of 800 to 1,000 Covid patients in intensive care, representing 70 to 90 percent of our current capacity,” he said.

READ ALSO Is the Covid-19 situation in French hospitals as bad as March?

The prospect puts more pressure on Macron, who is widely expected to announce tighter restrictions in a prime-time TV interview Wednesday night.

He met with top ministers on Tuesday morning to evaluate potential measures, with media reports suggesting a curfew is likely for the capital and other cities at risk of seeing their hospitals overwhelmed.

Since Macron's last major TV interview, to mark the Bastille Day holiday in July, the government has made the wearing of face masks compulsory both inside enclosed public spaces nationwide and outside in Paris and most other cities.

“This is a pivotal moment,” a source close to the presidency said, confirming that while a curfew is under consideration, a full lockdown for the capital or other cities is off the table for now.

READ ALSO What can we expect from Macron's TV broadcast?

Macron will also call on people “to better learn to live with the virus, over a longer period, to avoid making the situation even worse,” the source said.

On Saturday, the number of new infections in France rose by 26,896 in 24 hours, a record since widespread testing began.

And the national health agency reported a spike in Covid deaths on Monday to 94 in the previous 24 hours, with 171 new patients in intensive care (although numbers tend to be higher on Mondays due to a time lag in reporting over the weekend).

“Individual responsibility is 50 percent of this. We won't succeed if people don't get serious,” a government source told AFP.

Hirsch called for tighter work-from-home requirements and new measures to ensure social distancing.

“All of us – you, me, everyone – have to reduce our social contacts by 20 percent,” he said.


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