ICU cases creep toward new peak in French virus surge

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PARIS (AP) – The number of patients in intensive care in France is fast approaching the worst point of the country’s last coronavirus surge in the autumn of 2020, another indicator of how a renewed crush of infections is bearing down on French hospitals.

The French government count of COVID-19 patients in ICUs and hospital surveillance units climbed to 4,872 on Sunday night. That is just short of the last high-point of 4,919 ICU cases on Nov. 16, when France was also gripped by a virus surge and was locked down in response.

With ICU admissions continuing to increase by double digits on a daily basis, that November peak could be overtaken within days. Doctors are increasingly sounding the alarm that they may have to start turning patients away for ICU care, particularly in the Paris region.

When the pandemic first hit France, hospitals ended up with more than 7,000 patients in intensive care, a high point reached in April 2020.

But during that initial tidal wave of infections, hospitals stopped treating many non-COVID-19 patients to avoid becoming completely overwhelmed.

This time, as was also the case last November, hospitals are not completely clearing their decks of non-virus cases. While some nonessential surgeries are again being postponed, hospitals are still treating COVID and non-COVID emergencies, putting some ICUs under intense and worsening pressure.

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