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Health department warns of ‘overflow’ in ICU wards as third wave continues

Predictions foresee 1,300 patients, with 900 due to Covid-19

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22 January 2021 10:36 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan health department warned of “overflow” in ICU wards due to the continuing third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in a press conference on Thursday.

Adrià Comella, head of the Catalan Health Service, stated that based on the current figures, ICU admissions could reach 1,300 patients, with 900 of these being due to Covid-19.

As of January 21, 2021, there were 1,013 people throughout Catalonia in emergency care, 621 having been admitted for coronavirus. 

Health authorities previously explained that Catalonia was reaching the peak of contagions within the third wave, but that, however, this would mean hospital and ICU rates would keep climbing for weeks after the transmission rate fell.

The third wave “will have nothing to do with the second,” warned Comella, indicating that in fact “it will resemble the first wave.” 

Indeed, on January 18, Catalonia first saw ICU figures, which surpassed those experienced in the second wave, reaching 612 ICU patients, in comparison to the November peak of 597.

Hospital limits

Although hospitals would be able to accommodate up to 1,200 to 1,300, this will only be possible “for a short amount of time,” according to Comella, and stretching resources to this level comes at the risk of affecting patients with other pathologies. 

Operations are being rescheduled in order to adjust to the growing Covid-19 hospitalizations, with those needing the most complex resources being pushed back.

Comella predicts that this could be the reality in 10-15% of cases.  

In the first wave, the Catalan health department had to send out an instruction for all hospitals and medical centers to do so, but this time round this will be done gradually over the coming days and weeks. 

Despite there being greater knowledge surrounding the virus than in the past, which could allow for a better response, Comella stated that come what may the system’s limits are “what they are.”

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  • Two health workers visiting a Covid-19 patient in an ICU in Barcelona's Hospital Clínic hospital on October 23, 2020 (by Hospital Clínic)

  • Two health workers visiting a Covid-19 patient in an ICU in Barcelona's Hospital Clínic hospital on October 23, 2020 (by Hospital Clínic)

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