French hospitals will face increased workload this month amid the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and other diseases, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Monday. “The flu has started, gastroenteritis is already there. There are other pathologies, other people who suffer from chronic diseases and need treatment. Out of 400,000 beds in hospitals today, 20,000 are already occupied by COVID-19 patients, and this is even before the impact of the Omicron wave”, Veran told the France Inter broadcaster. “January will be tough for hospitals,” he said. “Omicron is expected to put less workload on intensive care units than other strains as it causes fewer acute respiratory disorders,” the minister stressed, adding that more regular beds will be needed to treat Omicron patients who might require oxygen. “The French are likely to have developed immunity against the virus, either from vaccination or infection, or both factors”, Veran noted. “Taking into account all the previous efforts to battle the coronavirus, the current wave driven by Omicron might be the last outbreak of the disease”, he underlined, adding that incidence rates and the spread of the variant are likely to continue growing for some time. France has been experiencing the fifth coronavirus wave since November 2021. In late December, the authorities confirmed over 208,000 infections in a day, breaking the national daily record high since the pandemic hit the country.
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