with more than 100 dead in one month, a brutal epidemic in New Caledonia

For more than eighteen months, New Caledonia has been able to boast of being one of the rare lands on the planet spared by the Covid-19 pandemic. This prerogative collapsed on September 6, with the detection of three local cases of the Delta variant, the contagiousness of which got the better of the tightness of the sanitary lock at the borders. Since then, the epidemic has been on the rise: more than 7,100 cases have been identified and the 100 dead mark was crossed on Tuesday, September 28, with a total of 101 deaths, which rose to 114 on Wednesday.

In this archipelago of 280,000 inhabitants, where vaccination started in January, only 31.47% of the population has a complete vaccination schedule. To this low rate are grafted the Oceanian community lifestyles and the multiple co-morbidities which strike Caledonians (obesity, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory insufficiencies), offering a fertile ground for the current health disaster.

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In favor of exploits “Miraculous”, in the words of the president of the establishment medical commission, Thierry de Greslan, the Medipole of Koutio, in the suburbs of Nouméa, pushes the walls daily to manage to absorb the continuous flow of patients. “400 of the 500 hospital beds are Covid beds and currently 297 patients are hospitalized, excluding intensive care, where 57 of the 61 places are occupied. This news is worrying and shows the seriousness of the epidemic in our country ”, warned the doctor, citing the figure “Staggering” of 6 tons of oxygen consumed every day at the Médipôle. In intensive care, the sorting of patients began to avoid submersion.

« Tsunami »

The brutality of the crisis, which affects increasingly young people – the average age of positive cases is 40 years and that of patients in intensive care 53 years – alarms the authorities. Despite strict confinement – schools closed, curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., closure of all non-essential businesses – the incidence rate is still very high: around 800 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In the immediate future, the government dispatched 180 volunteer caregivers from metropolitan France – doctors, nurses, midwives, nursing aides, logisticians – as well as 8 tonnes of equipment. Faced with this “tsunami”, the archipelago has also transformed two large hotels in Noumea into “hospital”, which allows, under the leadership of civil security, to take care of some 200 patients: asymptomatic positive cases but whose home does not allow isolation in good conditions, stable or cured patients but still oxygen-dependent.

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