Go to any hospital in the southern French city of Marseille and you will see the impact a second wave of COVID-19 is having.
Intensive care units are either full or about to reach saturation. More bed capacity is desperately needed but staffing is an issue.
Hospitals here have issued an urgent appeal for doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians from across France to come to Marseille to help.
Image: The city of Marseille is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19
This is the scenario the UK is desperate to avoid.
At the Laveran Military Hospital, doctors fear a return to the situation earlier this year when the health service was overwhelmed by the numbers.
The hospital takes in civilian patients and most ICU beds are now occupied by people with COVID-19. The hospital has turned over an entire ward to less seriously ill COVID patients.
Doctor Pierre-Yves walks along the line of doors to ICU bedrooms, pointing and saying: “That one, that one, that one.”
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These are the rooms where patients with the virus are kept isolated from others.
Protective garments are required before we can enter one, and inside Dr Pierre-Yves tells me this is a seriously ill 79-year-old woman.
She is a diabetic who contracted COVID over the summer – it is thought at a family party.
She has been placed on her stomach to help her breathing.
ICU care is both professionally and logistically challenging, and Dr Pierre-Yves tells me if those who flout social distancing rules in the city could come to the hospital and see what was happening it would open their eyes.
Image: Most ICU beds in Laveran hospital are now occupied by people with COVID-19
This is a potentially deadly illness, he says, and it is time everyone finally starts to take it seriously.
The number of coronavirus cases has been rising day on day for the last month here in Marseille, leading to tougher restrictions for its citizens.
Private meetings are limited to 10 people, bars and restaurants must close just after midnight and face masks are now a requirement in public spaces.
And yet watch people passing along the port side and you will see many who have decided to forego face masks. Many are young – the age group being blamed here for sowing the seeds of what is the rapid spread of COVID.
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Sebastien Debeaumont, deputy director of the Regional Health Services, tells me the current situation is “difficult, alarming and serious”.
Like officials in other European cities, he points the finger at young people socialising in recent months for the virus now heading in the wrong direction.
He says over that period it was mostly people between the ages of 20 and 40 who were affected, with few symptoms and few consequences, but they have mingled with older family members.
He added: “Now, that age group is less affected than earlier in the summer and now it’s the older, more fragile generation that is being hit.
“And it’s these people we are seeing in the ICU and in hospital. The challenge is to make the younger generation understand that they have a responsibility to themselves and above all to others.”
Those who repeatedly flout the rules on face coverings and social gatherings in Marseille could now face fines of thousands of euros and several months in prison.
Image: A man wearing a face mask walks in front of a graffiti in Marseille
But Mr Debeaumont is simply hoping people take their personal role in fighting COVID seriously and he has a message for the UK government and citizens if a second major wave is to be avoided.
“The lesson to be learnt from the first wave here is that, above all not to wait, and to take measures and find a balance between acceptable measures for all that are efficient,” he said.
“Wear a mask, wash hands and allow distance. It’s not something our culture is used to, but it needs to be factored into our lives whilst this virus is active.”
Source : Sky News