The Regional Health Administrations (ARS) of Lisbon and Vale do Tejo and Algarve have already crossed the red lines on the maximum recommended occupancy for Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU). The hospitals in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo currently have 90 Covid-19 patients in these units (the defined limit is 84) and the Algarve has 12 inpatients needing more care (the limit is 10).
The data were provided to the Observer this Monday by the respective entities, at a time when hospitalizations by Covid-19 are constantly increasing across the country.
In March, the General Directorate of Health, in conjunction with the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, established limits on maximum occupancy in ICUs across the country. The red line currently defined at national level is thus 245 beds occupied. Following are the beacons established by each region of the continent, as shown in the table below.
At ARS Lisboa and Vale do Tejo, the limit is currently exceeded in six patients. At the ward level, there are still 305 people infected with Covid-19 hospitalized.
In the Algarve, there are two more patients beyond the established line. There are still 49 beds occupied in the infirmary. The data is up to 00:00 on Sunday. To the Observer, official source of ARS Algarve, said that the University Hospital Center of the Algarve “may strengthen its response capacity, whether in hospitalizations or in intensive care, if the evolution of the pandemic so requires”.
In the remaining regions of the country the situation is not so critical. Official source of ARS Norte states that, in this region, “the situation remains stable, in terms of hospitalizations”. In all hospitals in the north of the country, there are 71 patients in the ward and 22 in intensive care units. As can be seen in the table above, the limit defined by the General Directorate of Health is 85 beds occupied for this region.
Until yesterday, ARS Centro registered 42 Covid-19 patients in the infirmary and 10 in the ICU. Official source of the entity informs the Observer that, of these 10, six “are aired”. ARS Centro explains that, so far, there has been no change in the number of active beds in the ward (111) or in the ICU (31), but admits that capacity levels may change as the pandemic evolves. “Occupancy rates in the Covid and UCI Covid wards in the region’s hospitals are 38% and 32% respectively, and no transfer of patients out of the region was necessary,” adds the source.
Covid-19. 14 tables and graphs show how the numbers are in Portugal
According to the latest data, ARS Alentejo reports 10 patients in the infirmary (occupancy rate of 21.7%) and two in a more serious situation in the ICU (9.5%). This entity also explains in a reply sent to the Observer that “responsiveness will always be adjusted” taking into account the epidemiological situation.
In the last 24 hours, another 46 people were hospitalized nationwide. There are currently 613 inpatients, of which 136 are in intensive care. It is the highest number of hospitalized patients since the end of March.
The Observer contacted the Directorate-General of Health to understand whether the red lines for admissions to intensive care units defined in March will be revised or changed — taking into account factors such as the advance of vaccination and the emergence of new variants — but not got an answer so far.
The chairman of the Monitoring Commission for the National Response in Intensive Care Medicine for Covid-19, João Gouveia, reveals to the Observer that hospitals in the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo region are already preventing a predictable increase in pressure on health services .
To increase responsiveness in intensive care medicine, hospitals have been advised to scale up the number of beds. At the moment, we already have 102 intensive care beds and we are able to reach 123 quickly”, explains João Gouveia.
The doctor also highlights the importance of the availability of “human resources” at this stage. In this sense, it warns that there are “scheduled activities” – such as surgeries – that can be postponed or interrupted, to free health professionals and increase the availability of beds. The specialist guarantees, however, that, for now, non-Covid patients are not being affected by this increase in hospitalizations in the capital region.
The president of the Monitoring Committee of the National Response in Intensive Care Medicine for Covid-19 admits that another possible scenario is the transfer of infected people to other regions of the country, as happened earlier this year — the most critical phase of the pandemic so far.
João Gouveia also highlights that the profile of hospitalized patients has changed: “Right now, we have younger patients with less comorbidities. The other day I was in emergency and had patients between 21 and 23 years old”.
Listen here in full to the statements made by João Gouveia, chairman of the Monitoring Committee of the National Response in Intensive Care Medicine for Covid-19, to the Observer:
Intensive care. “Once we cross the red lines, habitual activity will suffer”