Intensive care patients up by 40%, coronavirus cases ‘levelling off’

Intensive care units were at risk of being overwhelmed in the early weeks. Photo:

The number of coronavirus patients taken into intensive care has risen by 40% to its highest level for four weeks, according to the RIVM’s latest weekly bulletin.

In the first week of February 118 people were taken into intensive care, up from 83 the previous week and 67 the week before. Overall hospital admissions were up by a more modest 7% at 1,266, the highest figure recorded since mid-December.

The RIVM said the infection rate appeared to be levelling off, although this week’s total figures were inflated by the addition of more than 300,000 tests from the last three weeks that were delayed because of the high demand on the testing system.

In total 824,301 positive tests were reported by the local health board network (GGD) last week, nearly 300,000 more than in the last week of January. However, when measured by the date when the tests were taken the total increased by 2.4% to 608,529.

The RIVM is changing the way it compiles positive tests to try to fix the problems that have beset the system in the last few weeks.

New counting method

Until now positive tests were reported to the public health agency after they had been through the contact tracing process, which is completed by hand. With more than 80,000 people a day testing positive by the end of January, the system could no longer keep up with demand.

From February 8 positive tests will be reported directly to the RIVM, a change which it says will allow it to produce more accurate and up-to-date figures.

The number of people being tested fell by around 4%, while just over 60% of tests currently give a positive result.

Fewer cases in children

The slowdown in the infection rate is due mainly to a fall in positive tests in the youngest age groups. Among under-15s the number of cases was down by 1.6%, while for people in their twenties the figure was up by more than 50%.

Source: RIVM

The biggest rises were in people in their sixties and seventies, where cases were up by at least 60%. Hospital admissions are also increasing fastest in the over-80 age group.

The total number of coronavirus patients on Tuesday was 1,580, 87 more than the day before and a 17% increase in the last week. The figure includes 226 people who are intensive care, 10% more than a week ago.

Just over 80% of patients are in hospital mainly or partly because of Covid-19, while the remainder tested positive while being treated for other conditions. The proportion is higher in older age groups.

The RIVM also recorded 54 deaths from coronavirus in the first week of February, down from 66 the previous week.

Patients by age group to January 30 (final week incomplete). Source: Coronadashboard
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