COVID19: Health system burdened with rising ICU patients

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Cyprus’ health system is under tremendous pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients in need of Intensive or acute care increases.

On Friday, 50 people were intubated in an intensive care unit at one of the country’s state hospitals, including 14 unvaccinated patients under 50, according to the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY).

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, OKYPY spokesperson Charalampos Charilaou said the situation is “manageable”, but the organisation is scrambling to add beds in intensive care units.

Room is being made at public hospitals as patients with health issues unrelated to Covid are referred to private hospitals.

The average age of coronavirus patients now stands at 59, up from 53 a few weeks earlier. The median age of patients in ICUs is 57.6.

The increase in the average age of patients is due to the hospitalisations of the elderly, specifically those aged 70 and over.

Charilaou said the majority of these patients are unvaccinated.

One-third of coronavirus deaths among the elderly were vaccinated patients in July, an increase from previous months.

Between 1-20 July, six out of the 18 deaths recorded in people aged 70 and over concerned fully vaccinated patients.

Overall, he added that between 1-26 July, nine fully vaccinated and two vaccinated with one dose of the vaccine died from Covid-19, from 48 deaths.

Asked about whether a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine would be needed for the elderly, Charilaou said: “The important thing is for those who have not yet been vaccinated to do so, as it is never too late to get vaccinated”.

Charilaou said that OKYPY’s current plan provides more than 300 beds in COVID-19 wards and around 65 beds in ICUs.

He said ten more beds were scheduled to be made available for ICU patients at Nicosia General Hospital, with the provision for 12 more.

Charilaou warned the health system’s capacity is not inexhaustible, and room for COVID-19 patients is being made at the expense of patients with other health problems such as cancer, who might not have the same access to healthcare during the pandemic.

He argued this could increase morbidity in other diseases.

As of Thursday, some 293 patients were in hospitals, 96 were in a more serious condition.