France allows COVID-19-infected doctors to continue working in France

LE PECQ (France) -- France allows coronavirus-infected health workers to continue treating patients. This extraordinary measure is intended to ease staff shortages in hospitals and other facilities due an unprecedented increase in cases.

France allows COVID-19-infected doctors to continue working in France

France's special quarantine exemptions being extended to hospitals, elderly care homes, doctors’ offices, and other essential services demonstrates the increasing strain on France's medical system due to the rapidly-growing omicron variant.

It is a calculated risk. The possibility that COVID-19-infected health care workers could infect patients and colleagues is being considered against the need for essential services to be maintained.

France's quarantine rules for fully vaccinated persons who have tested positive outside the health sector require that self-isolation be completed for at least five days. Self-isolation for the unvaccinated is at most seven days.

Industries and governments have warned of the dangers of isolation rules causing staff shortages across a variety sectors. The omicron variant, which causes a surge in infections in many countries, has been blamed for many deaths. Some countries, such as France, have reduced quarantines to allow workers to return to their jobs.

France is the only European country that now allows health care workers to work even though they are infected.

There is increasing evidence that the variant causes less severe disease. However, the rising tide of infections continues to send more people to hospitals. This puts pressure on these institutions, particularly when medical staff are absent.

French hospital officials stated that self-isolation's flexibility would allow them to fill staffing gaps if they arise.

"If the system becomes extremely strained and half of our staff are positive," Dr. Marc Leone, head anesthesiology, North Hospital, Marseille, said.

He said, "But we are not in that position yet."

The Health Ministry sent an alert message to all hospitals, care facilities, and health authorities on Sunday. The Associated Press was able to see the message. These changes will be implemented this week.

Ministry alert stated that France's virus epidemic poses a "major risk" to the availability of health care services. It called the temporary measure "exceptional and temporary" but said it would be lifted once the system has recovered from the virus.

This exemption allows doctors, hospital staff, and people working with the disabled or other vulnerable persons to continue their jobs despite being positive for the test. However, they must be fully vaccinated and not coughing or sneezing.

Hospitals in Paris said that the measure could be used as a last resort if the staff is infected and they are unable to keep services open or if they refuse to work.

Romain Eskenazi is the communications director at two hospitals in Paris's northern suburbs. He said that COVID will not force anyone to go to work if they are feeling tired or have a sore throat.

Professor Remi Salomon is a president of the Paris hospital authority's commission. He said that although staff absences are a "major problem", allowing infected staff members to work is "extremely difficult to implement."

France Info broadcaster said that health workers told themselves: "I'm afraid of transmitting this virus to patients."

According to the Health Ministry, infected workers should not be allowed to contact unvaccinated patients, or people at higher risk for severe COVID-19-related illness.

According to the ministry, they must also limit their interactions with coworkers and can't take part in activities that require them to remove their face masks such as breaks for food or drinks.

France has the highest number of confirmed daily viral cases in Europe, making it increasingly difficult.

France's average daily virus case load has increased by more than twofold in the past week. Tuesday saw a record number of 271,686 cases. The omicron variant, which is threatening to disrupt transport, health care and other services, also burdens hospitals and causes a disruption in staffing.

France has more than 20,000 people hospitalized for the virus. This number has been steadily rising over weeks, but not as fast as the infection rates.

More than 72% of France’s ICU beds are filled by COVID-19 patients. The once-respected health system is showing signs of strain. Although 77% of the population has received at least two doses, most virus patients in ICUs have not been vaccinated.

France has the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 124,000 people having died.

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