PARIS — Hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients as the French government tries to stem a rising tide of infections, the health minister said Sunday.
As restaurants and bars in Marseille prepared Sunday to close for a week as part of scattered new virus restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that the country plans no fresh lockdowns.
Two Nobel Prize-winning economists proposed in Le Monde newspaper this weekend that France lock down its population for the first three weeks of December to allow families to get together safely for the end-of-year holidays and “save Christmas.”
In response, Veran said on LCI television, “We do not want to confine the country again. Several countries around us made other choices. We don’t want this.”
French health authorities reported 14,000 new infections Saturday amid a mass testing effort. France has reported 31,700 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.
While at least 10% of French intensive care beds are now occupied with COVID patients, Veran said they’re far from saturation.
Still, he said hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying scheduled surgeries to free up space. Hospitals temporarily suspended such operations when the virus swept over France in March and April, creating backlogs that still persist six months later.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.