COVID19: ICUs feeling strain as patient numbers rise

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Cyprus’ health system is under pressure from rising numbers of COVID and non-coronavirus patients, dangerously filling up hospital Intensive Care Units.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said authorities fear the number of patients will push past hospital capacity.

Charilaou said the authority is concerned over the increase of intubated patients with coronavirus, who are either still contagious or recovered but remain in hospital.

“This comes as the number of deaths in January nears August’s record of 95.

“So far, this month, 86 people have lost their lives to the virus,” said Charilaou.

On Wednesday night, health authorities had reported another eight deaths.

According to Charilaou, 40 patients with coronavirus were being treated at the ICU of Nicosia General, of which 36 were intubated.

Another 13 patients still intubated were admitted with severe coronavirus symptoms but are now post-COVID cases.

“Some 19 patients are in the (Nicosia) ICU due to other serious health problems, with the total number of patients in the Intensive Care Unit reaching 72.

“Another six patients who have ceased to be contagious are still intubated at Limassol General ICU, while another six patients are in the ICU for other health problems.”

“The Omicron variant is putting a strain on the health system as it affects the vulnerable, mainly the elderly and the unvaccinated”.

Charilaou urged people to get vaccinated or a booster, arguing that the numbers make for an irrefutable case favouring vaccination.

“Out of the 40 patients with COVID19 and the 13 who have recovered but are still in ICUs, only eight have been vaccinated, and just three have had a booster.

“Patients in ICUs are mainly elderly people.

“In recent days, the average age of patients treated with coronavirus is on the rise.

“When you have an average of 64 years, it means that you have a large number of people who belong to the older ages.”

He added that gradually the number of patients coming from nursing homes is growing, causing grave concern to the authority.

Head of the team advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis, said that nursing homes are being closely monitored.

“During October and November 2020, we lost a lot of senior citizens.

“Vaccines have contributed to reducing the number of deaths among the elderly, but we need to be strict in complying with health protocols,” said Tsioutis.

He said most recent cases from care homes are mild because most nursing home residents are vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, we also have people who have lost their immunity or have not been vaccinated at all, and thus it is inevitable the number of infected people will increase, so will the number of people who end up in hospitals.

“We must strictly follow measures when it comes to protecting the elderly or people with health problems,” said Tsoutis.