Lung scans of COVID-19 patients in their 30s show "scary picture"

Most of the deaths linked to COVID-19 have hit the elderly, but people in their thirties too can suffer badly from the disease.  A&E doctor Ignace Demeyer of the OLV Hospital in Aalst speaks of “scary” lung scans among patients that he is seeing.

It’s not only the elderly and people with underlying health complaints that are being badly affected by COVID-19.  Dr Ignace Demeyer, who works at an Accident and Emergency department in an Aalst hospital (East Flanders) warns that people with no history of illness are getting very ill.

“We’re not only talking about the older generations.  We’re talking about people aged between 30 and 50, who come in here. Frankly speaking lung scans of these patients are scary”.

“They all have the same complaints.  They’ve been home for a week, under the weather with flu.  The flu is over, for two days they feel fine and then they arrive complaining of a dry cough and shortness of breath.  When we measure their oxygen saturation (i.e. the amount of oxygen in their blood, we see particularly low oxygen saturations for their age.”

At that point doctors are alerted to the fact that these patients are in trouble.  The people don’t realise it because at the time they don’t feel ill.: “They come walking in, but they have been dreadfully impacted by the virus.  Dr Demeyer released lung scans of a corona patient.

On the photo left you see normal lungs.  In the second photo lung air sacs (pulmonary alveolus) are filled with up to 25% infection fluid.  The third photo shows the sacs filled to the tune of up to 90%.

Dr Ignace Demeyer: “These people can be cured, but these are life-threatening situations.  These are non-smokers, with no underlying health complaints like diabetes or heart failure.  They are young, sports-loving people.”

Virologist Steven Van Gucht shares Dr Ignace Demeyer’s concern: “This is one of the reasons that we advised the authorities to take drastic action and we’re asking everybody to follow them.”

The fact that some youngsters haven’t yet cottoned on to the seriousness of the situation and are organising parties or are going away for the weekend, he says, is “totally irresponsible behaviour”.

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