Virus variant cases overwhelming intensive care units, says expert
The variants of COVID-19 are spreading fast among the population, infecting younger people, and the situation is alarming for hospitals’ intensive care units (ICUs), an expert has said.
“The latest wave [in the outbreak] is nothing like we had experienced before because we are up against the strains of the virus, which is more damaging,” said Professor İsmail Cinel, the head of the Turkish Society of Intensive Care (TYBD).
He noted much younger patients are being admitted to hospitals.
“We have patients aged 45 or even 38. The number of patients in critical condition has been on the rise over the past six weeks. The average age of people treated in ICUs has come down to around 60 from 78 due to the vaccinations,” Cinel said.
Confirming Cinel’s worries, Esat Delihasan, the president of the Turkish Karate Federation, died of COVID-19 at the age of 52, the federation announced on April 19.
In the first wave of the outbreak, when the daily virus cases were around 13,000, fewer than 2,000 patients were in ICUs, however, as the infections surged to over 33,000 in the second wave, the number of people in ICUs climbed to some 6,000, according to Cinel.
“The situation is different now, alarm bells have been ringing over the past two weeks,” he said, adding that: “These are a very difficult time for health workers.”
Data from the Health Ministry show that there are nearly 3,300 patients in crucial condition in the country’s hospitals.
Whether the new restrictions the government recently announced will be enough to help bring the cases down is yet to be seen, Cinel said this week is crucial for ICUs.
He noted that ICUs in Istanbul’s hospitals are particularly overwhelmed and the occupancy rate in those wards are “very high,” calling on private hospitals to provide more support as they did in the previous two waves of the outbreak.
The latest weekly infection rate data for April 10 and April 16 showed that the number of cases per 100,000 people in Istanbul climbed to over 920 from around 805 in the previous week. Ankara saw the rate increase to 534 from 419, while it was 352 in İzmir, the country’s third largest city, up from 304.
Meanwhile, vaccinations against COVID-19 surpassed the 20 million-mark on April 19.
The country launched its inoculation program on Jan. 14.
To date, more than 12.2 million people have received their first doses, while second doses have been given to over 7.79 million.
In Istanbul, which has a population of nearly 16 million, over 3.17 million coronavirus vaccine jabs were administered, including more than 1.97 million first doses and 1.2 million second doses.