HEALTH – No one dares to talk about the fifth wave yet. It is true that the Covid-19 figures do not yet have enough to create panic but after the political declarations of Olivier Véran or Gabriel Attal, the health authorities are clear: “the epidemic resumption is confirmed”, for example affirmed this Friday, October 29 Public Health France in his weekly report.
And the novelty of recent days concerns a criterion that we had lost the habit of scrutinizing since the summer: the situation of hospitals. It is illustrated by a phenomenon well known for more than 18 months that the coronavirus epidemic has lasted: it begins with an increase in the incidence and the number of cases which is reflected with a little delay and more or less strongly in hospital wards.
As explained The HuffPost shortly after mid-October, the very marked ebb of the epidemic observed since the summer was stopped. The incidence rate was on the rise again in France; this trend has since been confirmed. And this rate was established Thursday, October 28 at 56 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, above the alert threshold set at 50 cases. As you can see from the maps below, it exceeds 50 in the majority of departments and is increasing in 80 departments.
This suggests that the return to school scheduled for Monday, November 8 could again be masked for the majority of elementary students who had discovered their faces before going on vacation.
The other consequence, as we indicated above, is visible in the hospital. As you can see below, the evolution of the number of hospitalizations is again positive. It is still very low (+ 1.4% over 7 days) but already noticeable. Ditto for the evolution in intensive care (+ 2.8% over one week).
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Meaning of the different indicators
- Incidence rate: this is the number of cases detected per 100,000 inhabitants. It is very useful, because it gives an inventory of the epidemic in near real time (a few days delay for the appearance of symptoms, or even before their appearance for contact cases). But it is dependent on the screening skills.
- Positivity rate: it is the number of positive tests compared to the total tests carried out. It makes it possible to “control” the incidence rate. If there are many cases in a territory (incidence rate), but this is only due to highly developed screening, the positivity rate will be low. Conversely, if it increases, it means that a greater proportion of people tested are positive, but especially that infected people who are not tested, who fall through the cracks, are potentially more numerous.
- Resuscitation bed occupancy rate by Covid-19 patients: This is a figure scrutinized, because it allows to know if the hospitals are able to manage the influx of patients. It is very useful, because there is little risk of bias: it does not depend on screening and bed occupations are well reported to the authorities. Its disadvantage: there is a significant delay between contamination and going to intensive care, of about two to three weeks.
- Intensive care admissions and new hospitalizations: 7-day smoothed average of people entering hospital
- Death in hospital: Like resuscitations, it is a fairly reliable indicator, but with a significant delay.
- R effective: this indicator represents the actual “virus reproduction rate”, ie the number of people infected by a contagious case. It is calculated by epidemiologists and also has a significant delay.
As we started from a very low level of intensive care, a few entries are enough to explode the evolution. This is still positive in more than one in two departments, as you can see below.
These first warning signals are a reminder that autumn and then winter are two seasons which offer the virus a favorable ground to spread. As the Scientific Council and the government keep repeating, two tools are available to everyone to ensure that this recovery does not turn into a fifth wave that would saturate hospital services that are widely tested.
The first is the still essential application of barrier gestures: regular hand washing and wearing a mask remain effective protection to avoid not only the Covid but all the other viral diseases of this period.
The second is vaccination. “It is essential to encourage the vaccination of people not vaccinated against Covid-19 as well as the administration of the booster to those 65 and over eligible,” said Public Health France on Friday.
See also on The HuffPost: Why France has ordered 50,000 doses of anti-Covid pills
Source: Le Huffington Post by www.huffingtonpost.fr.
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