AMIL medical meeting during the Lourdes days 2022
Dr De Franciscis hosted a meeting entitled "Lourdes Guerit Le Monde" on Saturday 12th February, which approximately 300 delegates attended, either in person or on zoom. A number of speakers offered their views including Mgr Antoine Herouard, Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, Dr Jean-Eudes Bourcier (local Emergency Medicine physician), and speakers who had experience of running pilgrimages since Covid.
The overall message was one of hope and encouragement. Hospitalised cases in the local Tarbes and Lourdes population have reduced, and continual updates are made to the Sanctuary's Health Charter as the situation changes.
Some of the speakers mentioned practical issues, such as the need for antigen testing prior to return to their country of origin as being a barrier to pilgrimage. UNITALSI are hoping to bring up to 56,000 pilgrims this year, and Dr Baiocco, its head, spoke of the need to balance the risk of contracting Covid with other pre-exisitng risks and the risk of isolation due to ongoing conservative isolation measures. They adopted measures including ensuring full vaccination of pilgrims, and small "bubbles" of 15. They had one case, caught prior to pilgrimage but no onward transmission. Dr Jonquet, president of CMIL and an infectious disease specialist, spoke of the moral duty to be vaccinated to protect others.
Our own Dr Hamilton Grantham also spoke. He was asked by Sandro what the Sanctuary and Lourdes can do to help pilgrimages have the confidence to come. Hamilton reiterated that the Hospitalitie, the Sanctuary and Sandro have all worked very hard to make Lourdes safe, and that Lourdes last October felt very safe. He said too that out of need, the clinicians and pilgrimage directors from the UK are working very much closer together than in the past, which was very good in many ways. He also agreed with the need to ensure that all pilgrims are fully vaccinated, and went on to describe the role of clinical Covid manager that has been adopted by UK pilgrimage directors to ensure that risks are fully understood and mitigated against prior to before and during the pilgrimage.
Dr Dan Field from the USA, described an outbreak that occurred during a Knights of Malta pilgrimage last year. He stressed the need to plan in advance for pilgrims needing to stay behind due to this, rather than just hoping it wont happen. He also spoke of the spiritual need for people to come and their willingness to take the risks involved, which we should facilitate rather than trying to avoid altogether.