On Wednesday, France became the fourth country to register 4,000 deaths from coronavirus, but this figure only covers hospitals.
Deaths in retirement homes have increased in recent days, with dozens of deaths reported across the country. Officials have refrained from directly linking the deaths to the coronavirus given the age and health of many of the dead.
“As of March 31, 411 nursing homes were affected by COVID-19 out of 620 in the region,” said the Grand Est Public Health Authority in a statement. “Five hundred and seventy people died in total. “
This region was the first in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections that quickly moved west to engulf Greater Paris, where hospitals are desperately trying to add intensive care beds to cope with the influx of critically ill patients.
The national health agency will soon update its figures to include nursing homes and people who may have died in their own homes due to the virus.
Nearly a million people live in around 7,000 nursing homes in France.
Last week, health agencies across the country publicly confirmed around 100 deaths in nursing homes. Nineteen have died since March 20 in a house in the southeast.
The healthcare sector requested general testing for all staff, as the virus often entered these homes through staff.
Representatives of retirement homes warned the Minister of Health in March that workers needed 500,000 masks and at least 100,000 people could die if the situation were not brought under control.
“We must limit the impact on the elderly because we know that they are the most fragile,” said Romain Gizolme, head of a care association for the elderly.
On March 6, authorities asked nursing home staff to tighten entry protocols, wear gloves and masks, and isolate suspected cases.
However, a worker in the Lyon area said that since last week in her retirement home, residents have always been dining together and the staff did not wear a mask. Since then, two workers have tested positive and four residents have fallen ill, she said.
France recorded its worst daily death toll from coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the official death toll to 4,032, while the number of cases increased by 17%. More than 6,000 people need life-saving care, a third of which is in Paris and the surrounding area.
In the Paris region, the number of intensive care beds is almost at the same level as the number of patients, and the authorities are trying to increase the capacity of 200 beds.
“The hardest part is … ensuring that the patient is in a stable condition,” Martin, a nurse from the COVID unit at the Ambroise Pare clinic in the suburbs of Neuilly in Paris, told Reuters TV before to deal with a patient. intensive care.
“It can go from a state where he’s fine for a minute and then he doesn’t. “
A hundred Parisian patients are transferred to other regions and health professionals transferred the other way.
Respirators are also installed in homes to save space in hospitals and patients are monitored remotely.
“We really are now on the front lines of the battle,” said an official from the regional health authority.
Report by John Irish; Editing by Alison Williams and John Stonestreet
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