September 22, 2020
By Yiming Woo
MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – David Fleyrat had almost cleared his Marseille hospital’s intensive care ward of COVID-19 patients during the summer lull in new cases. Now the private unit is filling fast again and Fleyrat can barely conceal his frustration.
“It’s not doing our job that is tiring. What’s tiring is a second wave because people do not respect social distancing,” Fleyrat, who is managing director of the private Clinique Bouchard-Elsan told Reuters.
Marseille is at the epicenter of a resurgence in novel coronavirus cases throughout France. Intensive care wards in the Mediterranean city’s public hospitals are full and so hospitals like Fleyrat’s are handling the spillover.
Some of France biggest cities outside of Paris, including Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux have imposed new restrictions in an attempt to slow the virus’ spread and reduce the number of intensive care admissions. Some 638 COVID-19 sufferers were admitted into ICU over the past seven days, official data shows.
For Nathalie Roche, a nurse in the clinic’s COVID-19 unit, lessons learnt during the first wave bring reassurance, and there are none of the acute shortages of face masks and gloves that compounded the stress of the job in the spring.
“But of course, psychologically, it’s still an extra weight,” Roche said of the increasing number of patients being brought in for life-saving treatment.
New coronavirus cases are spiraling in France, Spain, Britain and beyond in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is determined to avoid a second nationwide lockdown and says the country must learn to live with the virus.
But with no clarity on when a vaccine will be developed, his government is struggling to find the balance between allowing citizens to live their lives and containing the virus.
“During the first wave, staff were quite willing to venture into the unknown,” intensive care doctor Jean-Gabriel Castagnedoli said. “This time, the atmosphere is not the same. The staff are less willing, they don’t want to relive it all.”
(Writing by Richard Lough; editng by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)