Coronavirus in Chile NATIONAL

Into Chile’s ICU crisis: ‘Hospitals are swamped’

Chile is seeing persistently high numbers of coronavirus infections. Even as over 8 million citizens have been fully inoculated, ICU bed occupation is at crushingly high levels. Medical authorities are urging especially the younger population to get vaccinated and remain cautious.

 Of the 4,490 ICU beds nationwide only 145 remain available to treat severe Covid-19 cases. ICU bed occupation has been at critical levels for over a week, according to the latest ICOVID report, released by Pontificia Universidad Católica, Universidad de Chile, and Universidad de Concepción. In 14 regions, over 85 percent of ICU beds are occupied, and numbers keep rising.

Luis Ignacio de la Torre, who is the head of the Medical College’s Valparaíso section, told Chile Today that “one of the most concerning factors is the amount of patients occupying ICU beds, compared to a winter before COVID-19, like June of 2019, when there were approximately 1,450 patients in the ICU unit… Now we have 4,300 people. And we know that 3,300 of them are coronavirus patients”.

 The situation is exacerbated by rising cases in 13 regions and the government’s decision to ease mobility restrictions. De la Torre said “it is completely necessary to change the way in which we are controlling the pandemic, and aim towards reducing the transmission of the virus.”

According to him, “health workers are exhausted, frustrated and hopeless, and hospitals are swamped. Many health centers, public and private, have to warn their patients that if they don’t have a vital emergency, they can’t help them, because they are only taking in Covid patients.”

 Read more:

Study Links Chilean Covid-19 Mortality to Socioeconomic Status 

 Vaccinations

 Patients get younger, too. Most are under 40, according to the ICOVID report. But the number of patients over 70 has also increased.

Of the total population, 11 million have received the first dose of the vaccine, and 8 million have gotten both. Vaccinations focused on the below-30 age group over the past weeks. Yet 800,000 eligible citizens have not been vaccinated.

“This is very concerning, because these groups are more mobile and engage in risky behavior because they believe the disease will not be as intense for them, or that they are immune to the virus, which is fake,” De la Torre said.

 Officials and organizations like the Medical College urge citizens to get vaccinated and remain cautious, keep wearing masks and avoid social gatherings and close contact with big groups. “If we don’t reduce infections, the health system will probably not be able to handle it over the winter,” De la Torre added.

Also watch this Medical College video on the pandemic:

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