All areas of France are now in a state of ‘flu epidemic, including Normandy, which until now had escaped the worst of the illness.
There has been a sharp spike in “‘flu activity indicators” across the country this week, compared to last, according to the weekly figures published by health authority Santé Publique France.
GP network Sentinelles reported a 62% rise in the number of appointments dealing with ‘flu-like symptoms, representing 301 consultations per 100,000 people. Home visit group SOS Médecins said ‘flu-related issues represented 15.3% of their work this week, compared to 11.3% the week before.
Overall, 8,821 people have visited hospital for severe ‘flu symptoms, a significant rise of 56% compared to the week before. Of these, 810 were hospitalised, a jump of 72% from the week before.
Since November, 311 severe cases required resuscitation, and 26 people died.
Children have been especially affected this year, the figures show. Under-fives have made up almost a third of all emergency visits and hospital admissions for ‘flu.
Yet, most people with severe symptoms tend to be slightly older – with an average age of 52 – and 73% have other complicating factors, such as existing chronic illnesses or being aged over 65. Three-quarters of the latter group were not vaccinated against ‘flu.
For most people, ‘flu does not require special treatment, but every year in France it affects 2 million – 6 million, and kills around 10,000 people. Last year, the death toll reached 8,100 during the two months that were declared “an epidemic”.