Thursday 20 January 2022

More hospital staff are testing positive for coronavirus

Photo: Depositphotos

The number of coronavirus infections among hospital staff is soaring, particularly among front-line staff, the Telegraaf reported on Friday following a ring-round of eight major teaching hospitals.

Between 10% and 25% of staff who take a coronavirus test are now testing positive, the paper said, and at least one is even considering still using staff who test positive but have no symptoms, the paper said.

‘Things are getting out of hand in Amsterdam as they were in London,’ Mark Kramer, head of Amsterdam’s UMC teaching hospital, told the Telegraaf. ‘This is a big city problem.’

One in four workers AMC and VU workers taking a test are now positive, but this was only one in 20 a week ago, he said. ‘The holidays and more infectious Omicron variant have created a coronavirus explosion.’

This is why, the paper said, that Kramer is thinking hard about changes in staffing rosters. ‘If we can’t use people, the rosters are disrupted,’ he said. ‘But because many people with positive tests have no symptoms, we are thinking of using them anyway – fully protected of course.’

In Radboud University’s teaching hospital, some 12% of staff taking tests are positive for coronavirus and at Erasmus teaching hospital 10%. In Utrecht, the figure has more than doubled in a week to 14%. The situation is similar in Groningen, where 10% of workers are now testing positive.

Cancer ward

The use of staff who test positive but have no symptoms would be extremely controversial. Under current rules, people who test positive are required to quarantine at home, as are close family members.

Last November the Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis in Den Bosch admitted that a radiologist carried on working with cancer patients after testing positive for coronavirus.

The hospital said it had deviated from the RIVM’s guidelines because no other member of staff was available to take on the radiologist’s patients. ‘In this case we weighed up the risks in the interests of continuity of healthcare,’ a spokeswoman told AD.nl at the time.

She added that the person concerned was working under strict conditions, including wearing a face mask and maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres. ‘In this specific situation we would otherwise have had to intervene in the breast cancer programme and cancel appointments with patients,’ the spokeswoman said.

Falling hospital admissions

New cases may be going up, but the number of people being treated in hospital for coronavirus continues to decline, falling by 93 to 1,541 on Thursday, according to hospital patient data.

The number of intensive care patients went down by 30 overnight to 419, the biggest drop in IC occupancy since June 1, 2021. Ten Dutch IC patients are still being treated in Germany.

In total, 109 new patients were admitted to hospital, of whom 12 were sent to an IC ward overnight.

The number of hospital patients has been trending downwards since mid December, but government health advisors say they expect a new peak in mid January, when people suffering from the Omicron variant of coronavirus start to be admitted in large numbers.

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