In France more than half of coronavirus patients in intensive care are under 60, suggesting it's not just the elderly at risk

In France more than half of coronavirus patients in intensive care are under 60, suggesting it's not just the elderly at risk

coronvirus severe cases france

Christian Hartmann/Reuters

French medics in protective suits carry a patient at Strasbourg University hospital, France, on March 16, 2020.

  • Out of 300 coronavirus patients in intensive care in France, half are under the age of 60, the country's top health official Jérôme Salomon announced.
  • The situation in France challenges the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s current tentative understanding that the coronavirus most seriously hits those older than 60.
  • This assumption appears to have held true in Italy, and has influenced government health advice, including the US and the UK.
  • Salomon also said that France is struggling to contain the virus as some people are ignoring the country's lockdown.
  • France is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, with 5,437 reported cases as of Monday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

More than half of France's coronavirus patients in intensive care are under the age of 60, according to the country's top health official.

Jérôme Salomon, the French director-general for health, made the announcement on Saturday, according to CNN.

300 of France's coronavirus patients were then in intensive care, Salomon said.

He added: "We have serious cases also amid adults and let me remind you that more than 50% of people in intensive care are under 60."


He did not specify the age ranges of the under-60 patients. The country is the fourth worst-hit in Europe, with 5,437 confirmed cases.

jerome salmon france coronavirus top health official

Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters

France's Director General of Health Jerome Salomon leaves after attending a visit with French President Emmanuel Macron at the SAMU-SMUR call centre at the Necker Hospital, focused on COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in Paris, France, March 10, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier made the tentative observation that the most seriously-affected patients have been the over-60s and those with underlying conditions.

The pattern in France is notably different to Italy's, where one of the world's most elderly populations resides and where the average age of coronavirus fatalities is 81, as Business Insider's Rosie Perper previously reported.

A study published by China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention in February also noted that older patients were more seriously affected, as Business Insider's Aria Bendix has reported.


The advice has been cautiously echoed by health agencies worldwide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended extra precautions for those groups, while the UK government's advice to health professionals also cautiously repeated the WHO's observations.

france coronavirus closures lockdown restaurant

Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Tables and chairs are seen on the terrace of closed restaurant as France's Prime Minister announced to close most all non-indispensable locations, notably cafes, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and shops due to concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Vannes, March 15, 2020.

Salomon also told a news conference on Monday that the country is struggling to contain the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.

He said that, despite the government's recommendations, many people were still venturing out against official advice.

France is one of several countries imposing lockdown measures in efforts to prevent the spread of the disease. On Saturday, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that non-essential businesses, including restaurants and cafes, would close.


On Monday Salomon told France Inter Radio: "A lot of people have not understood that they need to stay at home, and this low level at which people have adhered means that we are not succeeding in curbing the outbreak of the epidemic," Reuters reported.