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“For us, it’s far from over”, worry doctors

People wait in front of a pharmacy to carry out an antigen test, in Paris, on February 12, 2022.

“The ambient discourse on the Covid is incomprehensible. » In his medical office in Outreau (Pas-de-Calais), Michaël Rochoy spent the morning of Thursday March 31 responding to the concerns of his patients: a life assistant with a positive self-test who wonders if she still needs to isolate, a patient without comorbidities, worried, who asks for a home visit. “People are surprised to be infected, because the dominant discourse is that the Covid is over”, regrets the young doctor. However, more than 140,000 people are diagnosed positive daily, a figure up 30% from the previous week. Hundreds die every day.

Since the decision, at the beginning of March, to lift most of the health restrictions, the government has regularly put into perspective the scope of the epidemic rebound observed in France and in the rest of Europe.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that people who test positive for Covid-19 will be able to vote in the first round of the presidential election despite the isolation still imposed on infected people. It will be theirs only “recommended” to wear a mask in the polling stations. The spokesperson partly justified this decision with epidemiological arguments: the “Rise in the number of contaminations seems to be starting to be slower” and “if there has been a slight increase in hospital admissions in recent days, the number of hospitalized patients remains sustainable”.

A tendency to normalize the epidemic

Indeed, the hospital is holding up well. The number of people hospitalized is currently equivalent to that of the end of December 2021, that is to say more than 20,000, even if the models of the Institut Pasteur anticipate “an increase in hospital admissions in the coming days”.

Symptoms caused by the Omicron variant “require us to modify our care pathways and to favor geriatric pathways in the reception of patients”underlines Clarisse Audigier-Valette, from the Toulon hospital center, who explains that she only receives a few respiratory attacks but essentially “additional pathological decompensations such as during the flu” mainly aimed at the elderly. BA.2, the currently majority sub-variant of Omicron, may well be more transmissible than its predecessors, but its lower virulence gives hope of entering another form of epidemic.

Read also: Covid-19: why do we not know the number of people infected since the start of the epidemic?

So much so that some doctors are tempted to standardize the current one. “Today, I would tend to manage the Covid like the flu”explains Guilaine Kieffer-Desgrippes, of SOS-Médecins. “There are quite a few Covids, but less aggressive than before; on the other hand, we have observed an explosion of the flu since we took off the mask, with very severe symptoms ”, reports the president of the URPS Liberal Doctors of the Grand-Est. But since she only tests the most fragile subjects, “we cannot exclude that there is Covid among these cases”. The screening rate is at its lowest level since November 2021: an even higher proportion of cases than usual are going under the radar. While the positivity rate is approaching its maximum: 30% of those tested obtain a positive result.

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