“We are clearly no longer on a wave, we are on what we can call a tide with coefficients beyond what we have been able to know”, summarizes Dr Christophe Couturier, responsible for emergencies, whose service colonized pediatric emergencies to cope with the influx of covid patients. And, despite an “exemplary” mobilization of staff, he fears that “the dike will fail.”
60% of patients carrying the English variant
Of the sixty covid-19 patients hospitalized, including ten in intensive care, more than 60% are carriers of the English variant, a proportion that distinguishes Dunkirk from the rest of the national territory. Doctors fear that the proportion will soon reach 100%.
If it does not give more serious symptoms than the “classic” covid and is treated in the same way, this variant “is transmitted very quickly: you meet someone who is a carrier of the virus and the next day you are contagious and positive ”, alerts Isabelle Durand-Joly, medical officer of the hospital.
Hardened by almost a year of pandemic, the carers of the Dunkirk hospital know better how to take care of the patients, but must manage a permanent saturation of the available beds, occupied by patients a little younger than in previous phases.
“We work with the ball in the stomach”
“Sometimes, there is only one place left in intensive care in the hospital and we have a few patients on the line; therefore, we work with that lump in our stomachs… ”, says Julie Jacquemart, nurse in the internal medicine and infectious diseases department.
The front door of the service in front of which she speaks is lined with posters: “Access prohibited, high viral density”, “Visits prohibited, except medical advice” … “The seats, we will find them elsewhere, but (…) it gives additional stress, ”she adds.
“We have transferred 45 patients to intensive care services since February 1, which represents three months of transfers in more usual times”, identifies Justine Leibig, acting director of the hospital, stressing however that at this stage, no operation had to be deprogrammed.
For the moment, the patients transferred are to other establishments in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, but the caregivers see the moment arriving with apprehension, “in 15 days at most”, according to Dr. Durand-Joly, where these hospitals will also find themselves saturated.
The doctor points out that the incidence rate, which reached 658 cases per 100,000 inhabitants at the start of the week in the agglomeration of Dunkirk, is also rising in the region of Saint-Omer.
Pass of arms between the mayor and the prefecture
The strategy to be adopted in the face of the epidemic outbreak gave rise to a pass of arms between the mayor of Dunkirk, who had requested the closure of schools a week before the holidays, and the prefecture, which opted to postpone admissions and outings in the primary and put the secondary “in mixed mode” (face-to-face / distance education).
The hospital caregivers, for their part, noted a relaxation of behavior and, while understanding this after a year of constraints, called for responsibility. “The Dunkirk people have to behave in an exemplary manner to help us and themselves; otherwise, most of them will end up here, ”insists Dr Couturier.
Many family clusters
Doctors and nurses note a drop in vigilance in the private sphere, which results in the formation of many family clusters, parents and grandparents sometimes finding themselves hospitalized.
These Thursday and Friday, the Regional Health Agency is conducting an exceptional free screening campaign without an appointment. It also decided to allocate 2,400 doses of Moderna vaccine, “from the regional security stock”, to the urban community of Dunkirk and the community of communes of Hauts-de-Flandre “to protect the most vulnerable against the variant. British ”.
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