“We know that deaths in hospital represent only a small part of mortality”, Jérôme Salomon, the director general of health, acknowledged on Tuesday 24 March, announcing 240 additional deaths due to the coronavirus in the space of 24 hours and a number of deaths in France then exceeding 1,000 people (1 331, Wednesday March 25 evening, Editor’s note). The official balance sheet, which only counts deaths in the hospital environment, is much lower than the reality and only corresponds to an estimate.

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Indeed, it does not take into account deaths occurring at home and in nursing homes. Several dozen deaths have been reported in recent days in several establishments, despite a strict confinement of residents. Sixteen people died in a retirement home in Saint-Dizier (Haute-Marne), seven in Haute-Savoie and twenty in another nursing home in the Vosges. But as of yet, no overall casualty toll has been released.

A difficult count in the Ehpad

Jérôme Salomon underlined it, “The two main places of death are the hospital and the nursing homes”. Why are deaths not counted there? “It is very complicated to count deaths in real time, even those occurring in hospitals. The system is not made for that “, advises the Ile-de-France regional health agency to Release. In Ehpad, things would be all the more complicated: ” These establishments are not connected to the system which makes it possible to make the link with hospitals, which complicates the feedback. “

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In addition, in Ehpad, patients suffering from symptoms associated with Covid-19 are not systematically tested, making a possible count difficult. “It’s difficult to know if these deaths are related [à l’épidémie] because, like everywhere in France, we no longer systematically detect new cases ”, explains an establishment manager in Thise (Doubs), where fifteen deaths took place.

A more precise count in the coming days

Without giving a specific date, Jérôme Salomon announced on March 24 the establishment “In the coming days” of a “Daily monitoring of mortality” in the Ehpad. “We will also have mortality monitoring data in the city, because there may be deaths at home or in institutions, and not in the hospital environment”, he also said on Friday March 20. It remains to be seen how the deceased, probably suffering from Covid-19 but not tested, can be taken into account.

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