Intensive care admissions near critical level as MPs call for more beds

A sign warning people to keep their distance in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam. Photo: D Nicholls-Lee

The number of people being treated for coronavirus in intensive care wards rose by 38 on Wednesday, although the figure is not complete, officials said on Wednesday evening.

The number of intensive care patients had been rising at a rate of around 100 a day. In total, 1,147 people are now being treated in IC wards and there are some 200 beds still available.

Officials are working round the clock to boost the number of intensive care beds to meet the expected demand. The government has pledged to increase the total number to 2,400 by next Sunday, of which around 600 will be reserved for non corona patients.

If the Netherlands nears the critical number of 1,900 IC patients, officials say tough choices will have to be made. The public health institute RIVM says the total number of IC patients could reach as high as 2,500.

Hospitals minister Hugo de Jonge told MPs on Wednesday that once the 2,400 bed total is reached, ‘we will keep on trying to increase it’. He said officials are doing all they can to avoid reaching the maximum number of patients.

‘But if that possibility arises, we must be honest about it,’ he said. De Jonge told MPs that decisions in such a critical phase would be based on vulnerability, not age. Nor is it up to politicians to take such decisions, he said.

Choices would be made on the basis of medical considerations by professionals, he said. ‘But I do understand the need for transparency,’ he told MPs.

So far 1,173 people have died of coronavirus in the Netherlands, the RIVM said earlier on Wednesday. Only around 200 of those deaths have occurred in intensive care wards, according to the Dutch intensive care association.

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