Saturday 28 November 2020

Covid-19 hospital admissions expected to exceed first wave next month


The number of coronavirus patients in hospital could reach 6,000 by the start of December if current trends continue, the head of the country’s acute care service has warned.

Ernst Kuipers said it was possible more than 1,500 people would be in intensive care by the end of next month and warned that occupancy rates were rising faster than anticipated.

The rise in infections has slowed slightly in the last week from 27% to 22% a week – though around 1,500 cases were missing from last Saturday’s figures – but it takes one to two weeks for the trend in infections to be reflected in the hospital numbers.

‘We really need to see things level off now so that we reach a plateau at the start of November,’ Kuipers told a technical briefing of MPs on Wednesday morning. ‘If that doesn’t happen we’re heading for real problems.

Wednesday’s admission figures showed another 313 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in hospital, two more than the number admitted the previous day. Altogether there are now 2,376 hospital patients with the disease, 545 of whom are in intensive care.

At the peak of the first wave in early April around 3,000 patients were being treated on hospital wards and 1,400 were in intensive care units – 58 of whom were transferred to hospitals in Germany.

The public health agency RIVM registered 8,123 new infections on Wednesday, but the figure was incomplete because of technical difficulties. Another 54 people were confirmed to have died, continuing the recent upward trend.

‘Mixed picture’

Jaap van Dissel, head of the infectious disease control centre at the RIVM, told the briefing that it would become clear in the next few days if the ‘partial lockdown’ that began two weeks ago was working.

‘We’ve seen more than 10,000 infections a day for several days. We’re convinced the rate is levelling off, but we don’t know if it’s started to fall. It’s a mixed picture. It’s too early to say whether we’ve reached the turning point.’

Van Dissel said he hoped that the easing of the lockdown would be quicker than in the summer. ‘We were quite cautious. That’s something we should try to learn to do better. Once you get onto the downward curve you get down to half the current level infections you have now relatively quickly.’

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