Could Covid-19 (and other viruses) ruin the holidays?

Could Covid-19 (and other viruses) ruin the holidays?

Only eleven more sleep before Christmas Eve. While the little ones count the days to open the presents, the big ones (finally Santa Claus) run to the stores for the last purchases.

And after almost three years of pandemic, the Covid-19 does not let go. Sign a ninth epidemic wave while other viral infections have also returned. Contaminations and hospitalizations on the rise, vaccination on the decline. With New Year’s Eve just days away, can we still avoid catastrophe—and contagion—during the holidays?

Ninth wave, triple epidemic and closed windows

The waves of the Covid-19 follow each other and are similar. Except that “the situation is particular at the end of the year: two years ago, the coronavirus was omnipresent, and the other winter viruses were extinct; last year, the flu epidemic was very late and weak, recalls Dr. Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine). There, this ninth wave of Omicron has the peculiarity of breaking out at the same time as a severe wave of influenza and bronchiolitis. With an increase in hospitalizations for respiratory infections. Where before it was almost just Covid, we are seeing a strong return of all other respiratory infectious diseases.

Another detail worries the infectologist. “We are in the heart of a December that is likely to be the coldest in ten years, and we are entering this winter period against a backdrop of energy sobriety, completely obscuring the issue of indoor air quality. It’s very cold, we fear power cuts and we tell people: “Turn down the heat and don’t waste energy.” Everyone remains with the windows closed, at home as in closed public places, and without a mask, he underlines. Or the best cocktail to increase the pollution figures”.

And on the side of the figures, precisely, the fears are verified. Public Health France thus observes a “viral circulation that continues to increase. Despite the strike movements of certain private medical biology laboratories, most of the virological indicators, as well as those related to the use of care, showed that the epidemic was still advancing. And he also points out in his latest epidemiological bulletin a 29% increase in visits to the emergency room (+29%) due to suspicion of Covid. Likewise, “hospitalizations due to bronchiolitis represent for the fifth consecutive week half of the hospitalizations after a visit to the emergency room in children under 2 years of age.” As well as a “very strong increase in hospitalizations, particularly among those over 65 years of age” due to flu cases.

The forgotten vaccination

However, the busy epidemic climate right now does not seem to encourage crowds to get vaccinated. Given this observation, the Minister of Health, François Braun, has mentioned a “serious situation” in recent days. Only “2.8 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 since the beginning of October, much less than our European neighbors,” he stressed. The same observation for the flu: “9.9 million vaccines were sold in pharmacies”, 5% less than in 2021.

Logical consequence: “the French are less protected,” lamented the minister, who “solemnly calls for a jump in vaccination.” And who also called “solemnly the responsibility” of the Ehpad managers to accelerate the vaccination against Covid-19 of the neighbors, of whom only a fifth are vaccinated. In addition to the elderly, those with comorbidities and pregnant women, “everyone can get vaccinated,” repeated François Braun, thus judging it “totally normal” to get vaccinated “if you go to see your elderly parents during the holidays.”

Because on the timing side, “we are still largely fine,” says Dr. Davido. We still have about ten days to do our Omicron reminder, which will quickly boost immunity: it starts to be effective after three days and the peak of antibody production is after seven days, so now is when we ‘have to go’.

The right gestures to save Christmas

And if for Christmas it is no longer suggested as two years ago to send “grandfather and grandmother to the kitchen” during the meal, the traditional barrier gestures are still de rigueur. “Everyone has relaxed, there is fatigue and mistrust due to Covid, says Dr. Davido. People are fed up with the vaccine, with the mask, with the constraint, and have become used to these epidemic waves and their disastrous effects on the health of the French and on the hospital. But the viral infections are there, and there is only vaccination and barrier gestures to counteract them.

Among them, “wash your hands, ventilate regularly and wear a mask in closed places,” recalled François Braun. “These gestures are effective against all viral infections,” adds Dr. Davido. We also avoid transgenerational hugs, especially with more fragile people. And we test ourselves at the slightest doubt. In pharmacies, “we have seen a rise in the demand for tests, and an increase in self-test sales in recent days,” says Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Pharmacy Dispensers Unions (USPO), which awaits the arrival of evidence of a new kind. “Tests capable of simultaneously detecting influenza and Covid-19 for adults, but also bronchiolitis for children.” This “would make the general public even more responsible,” says Dr. Davido. But if the HAS “is aware that this test is still in the testing phase, to date it has not been the subject of a referral from the laboratory that developed it,” the health agency responds in 20 minutes.

In the meantime, “we continue to screen and isolate ourselves when we are sick, even if it is not Covid, specifies Dr. Davido. I see many patients who, under the pretext of a negative Covid test, cough in your face saying: “don’t worry, it’s not Covid”. So the message is simple: everyone maintains their miasma, and we wear a mask when symptomatic. It is safer for everyone to wear it in closed and crowded public places: transport, offices and department stores. A responsibility of individual time, the Minister of Health having ruled out making the mask mandatory, explaining that there are “simple gestures that do not need text”.

#Covid19 #viruses #ruin #holidays

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