Just over half the 213 people who have died of coronavirus in the Netherlands had underlying health issues, the public health institute RIVM has said in a preliminary analysis of the figures.
Around half of them had heart or artery disease, 30 were diabetic and 24 had chronic lung problems, the RIVM said.
‘A coronvirus infection can lead to serious lung problems and if you have heart and artery disease, then your body is less able to resist this serious infection,’ Erasmus medical centre virologist Eric van Gorp told broadcaster NOS.
The figures also show that while coronavirus affects men and women equally, men account for two-thirds of the deaths. The average age of those who have died is 82, while the youngest Dutch victim so far was 55.
Further research is needed to determine if the fact men are more likely to smoke and develop heart disease has been a factor in the death toll, Van Gorp said.
So far, 1230 are or have been treated in hospital for coronavirus, or around 25% of those testing positive for the disease. Of the hospital patients, 17% are or were under the age of 55. The total includes eight children under the age of 10 and four teenagers.
As hospitals race against the clock to free up space for the expected increase in patients this week, the Dutch intensive care association said on Monday evening that 487 people are being treated for coronavirus in intensive care wards nationwide.
This is higher than the NVIC would have liked, and the organisation had been expecting around 1,000 by the end of the week, chairman Diederik Gommers told RTL Nieuws.
Total intensive care capacity is normally 1,150 beds but this is being scaled up to 1,500, health minister Bruno Bruins said last week.
Some 400 people are currently being treated in hospital in Noord-Brabant, where the coronavirus outbreak has been concentrated and officials expect a peak in cases this week.
Around 100 patients from hospitals in Noord-Brabant have been moved to hospitals in other parts of the country to free up space in local intensive care units. Hospitals have also been postponing non-essential operations in order to focus on coronavirus.
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