Van Gucht “Maximum intensive care capacity will not be exceeded if we follow the new rules strictly”

At the weekly National Crisis Centre press conference, the virologist Steven Van Gucht spoke of “the first long-awaited” glimmers of hope starting to shine through in the figures relating to the coronavirus crisis. 

"The number of hospitalisations and infections continue to rise but are increasing less rapidly.”

“The next two days will show whether the number of hospitalisations is stabilising or not”.

However, the number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to rise sharply and the situation continues to give great cause for concern. 

"The number of patients in intensive care will continue to rise, possibly until the second week of November. The strain on the hospitals will only increase. We still have a long way to go”.

"The slowdown will have to first be maintained before it turns into an effective fall. This fall will have to continue for long enough for us to enter the safety zone. With the current more than 20,000 infections per day our lines of defence are under too much pressure", Professor Van Gucht said.  

Increase in average age of those infected

Professor Van Gucht went on to say that the average age of those testing positive continues to rise. Now half of those testing positive is older than 43.

"There are as many infections among people in their 20’s as there are among people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. We have seen a reduction in infections among children and teenagers. There is a particularly pronounced rise among the over 80’s. Here the number of infections is doubling every 11 days”.

Meanwhile, the number of hospitalisations is doubling every 14 days. Last week this was every 8 days. The number of patients in intensive care is doubling every 10 days. “Thanks to this slowdown and if we follow the new corona measures strictly if could be possible that we will stay under the maximum capacity of 2,000 intensive care beds during the next two weeks. This could buy a bit of time and give the hospitals more chance to organise themselves to receive the continuing flow of patients”, Professor Van Gucht told the press conference.

The number of hospitalisations may be influenced by the criteria used by hospitals when deciding whether a patient should be admitted.

“We have heard that in recent days certain hospitals, certainly in areas that are the hardest hit have been using stricter criteria to decide on whether a patient should be admitted. The decision to monitor a patient in their home or in a care or eventually to give the oxygen and not admit them to hospital is being more readily taken now. Of course, whether this doesn’t put under threat the quality of the care given to a person will be considered first before this is done. At the moment it is difficult to assess how important an effect this is having on the hospitalisation figures”.  

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