Critical care doctors in Paris say surging coronavirus infections could soon overwhelm their ability to care for the sick in the French capital’s hospitals, possibly forcing them to choose which patients they treat.
The sobering warning was delivered on Sunday in a newspaper opinion signed by 41 Paris-region doctors. Published by Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, it comes as President Emmanuel Macron has been vigorously defending his decision not to completely lock down France again as he did last year.
Since January, his government has instead imposed a nationwide overnight curfew and followed that with a mixture of other restrictions.
But with infections soaring and hospitals increasingly running short of intensive care beds, doctors have been stepping up the pressure for a full lockdown.
The doctors who wrote in Le Journal du Dimanche said they had “never known such a situation, even during the worst (terror) attacks” that targeted the French capital, notably assaults by so-called Islamic State extremists in 2015 that killed 130 people and filled Paris emergency wards with the wounded.
The doctors predicted that softer new restrictions imposed this month on Paris and some other regions will not bring the resurgent epidemic under control quickly.
They warned that hospital resources will not be able to keep pace with needs, forcing them to practise “catastrophe medicine” in the coming weeks as cases peak.
“We already know that our capacity to offer care will be overwhelmed,” they wrote. “We will be obliged to triage patients in order to save as many lives as possible. This triage will concern all patients, with and without Covid, in particular for adult patients’ access to critical care.”
Mr Macron remains adamant that not locking France down again this year, like some other European countries, was sound, even as more than 2,000 deaths per week push the country closer to the milestone of 100,000 lost to the pandemic. The country now counts more than 94,400 dead.
“We were right not to implement a lockdown in France at the end of January because we didn’t have the explosion of cases that every model predicted,” he said last week.
“There won’t be a mea culpa from me. I don’t have remorse and won’t acknowledge failure.”