The covid-19 epidemic is expected to bring intensive care units to the saturation point. Hospitals are on the warpath.

The covid-19 epidemic is expected to bring intensive care units to the saturation point. Hospitals are on the warpath.

From our correspondent Max Helleff (Brussels) – The coming days will be crucial for Belgium and its ability to resist the coronavirus. According to epidemiologists, the number of people admitted to intensive care could double in the coming days, at the risk of bringing more than one hospital to the saturation point.

The figures, experts repeat, are good. Some 12,000 cases of coronavirus are confirmed among the Belgian population, but the number of hospitalizations is now increasing at a slower rate. Enough to suggest to experts that widespread containment remains the way to go, even if some of them would have preferred that even more drastic measures be taken. The death toll stood at 513 on Monday.

As if to testify to the relevance of confinement, a report from Imperial College London published on Monday estimates that the measures taken in Belgium within the framework of the fight against covid-19 will have prevented 560 deaths by March 31. . But by the time the upturn is confirmed, there will be a need to treat those who have contracted covid-19 and sometimes arrive at the hospital between life and death. However, the number of beds in the “intensive care” unit is not infinitely expandable.

Dr. Philippe Devos’ apocalyptic forecasts have not gone unnoticed at a time when authorities and the media have called on the Belgian population in chorus not to panic.

Today, on average, just over one in two (53%) of these beds are occupied in the country’s 103 hospitals. This occupancy rate should ramp up over the next few days to the point of turning the entire hospital network upside down.

“A peak will necessarily take place between today and April 5, so it will be in the days to come. The hospital peak logically follows the peak of calls recorded by doctors, “warns Thomas Orban, the president of the College of General Medicine. Several Brussels hospitals are already almost fully booked. Up to 85% of intensive care beds. CHU Brugmann is close to saturation with 92% compared to theoretical ceilings. In Hainaut and Limburg, the plan for the distribution of patients between hospitals has been activated.

The press wonders about the existence of plans B. What solutions indeed offer to those who suffer if the intensive care should be complete? The images of these French patients transported on their stretcher by TGV have struck the imagination. It is also about “sorting the sick”, as if war medicine had been invited through the virus in a country a priori free from any conflict.

Several cases have been detected in the university city which does not intend to close its faculties, however.

The state of destitution of certain hospital units makes the front pages of information. Diving masks sold by the Decathlon brand have been diverted from their usual use to serve here as breathing aid, there to protect the caregiver during medical acts likely to infect him.

These D systems respond to the controversy that erupted last week over the shortage of reactive tests, protective masks and respirators. Obviously, Belgium has not renewed the stocks of medical equipment supposed to protect its population and its health professionals in time.

Questioned by the public channel RTBF Monday, the former Minister of Health Laurette Onkelinx estimated that, in the future, it will be necessary to have an economic view of the companies able to manufacture protective equipment “near us” and have access to ” a stock for all nursing staff. The current situation, judged the socialist, makes health professionals run reckless risks.

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Dr. Philippe Devos’ apocalyptic forecasts have not gone unnoticed at a time when authorities and the media have called on the Belgian population in chorus not to panic.

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