Occupancy due to Covid is still low, but the number of ICU patients has doubled over the weekend
The fifth wave begins to reach hospitals in the Region of Murcia. The escalation in infections experienced in recent weeks is behind the notable increase in the number of admissions registered during the weekend. According to data provided yesterday by the Ministry of Health, 43 patients remain hospitalized for Covid, compared to 29 on Friday. Fourteen of these patients are in the ICU, double the number in the previous balance.
These are, in any case, figures very far from the second and third waves, when the hospitalization floors and ICUs were overwhelmed by Covid. At the end of January, there were 1,130 patients admitted for coronavirus in the Region, of which 175 remained in Intensive Care. These data provide perspective on the current situation and allow us to verify the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign. Another key is mortality. The Region has not registered any deaths from Covid during the last week.
But, although the immunization of a large part of the population removes the risk of a repeat collapse, Health is watching the epidemiological evolution with concern. Everything indicates that the incipient increase in hospital occupancy will continue in the coming days as a result of the “explosion of infections” we are witnessing, warns Enrique Bernal, specialist in Infectious and Covid coordinator of the Reina Sofía. Although the vast majority of infected young people have mild symptoms, approximately “1.5% require hospitalization.”
The pressure is currently on Primary, which is monitoring more than 1,500 infected
The Minister of Health, Juan José Pedreño, stressed that the increase in incidence is already having an impact on the healthcare pressure in hospitals and, above all, in Primary Care, which is in charge of monitoring mild cases and close contacts. Currently, there are 1,614 infected people in the Region, which represents an increase of 109% in just one week. Of these, 1,571 are in home isolation, under monitoring by their health centers.
Between 29 and 55 years old
Vaccination is acting as a firewall against the fifth wave. With 76% of those over 40 years of age already protected with the two doses, the mean age of hospitalized patients decreases with respect to previous pandemic waves. As explained by the counselor, in ICUs there are currently patients between 29 and 55 years old, mainly. “We have patients 29, 40, 46 or 32 years old,” he stressed.
The population between 20 and 29 years old is already close to 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Pedreño stressed that these data show that the youngest can also end up requiring hospital admission. Among those over 40, the majority of admissions are among people who did not want to be vaccinated or who have not yet completed the regimen. Hence, the Ministry has decided to advance the administration of the second dose by one month to more than 10,000 people over 60 years vaccinated with AstraZeneca. These sixties are being summoned since yesterday throughout the Region.
But vaccines do not protect 100%, not even with the full regimen. Hence the need to achieve group immunity, with at least 70% of the population vaccinated. Meanwhile, prevention must be maintained, with “a correct use of the mask,” Pedreño said. “It is true that there are vaccinated people who are becoming infected and, for that reason, we have to continue to be prudent,” he warned.
To all this is added the threat of the delta variant, present in many communities, although still barely detected in the Region of Murcia (only two cases have been identified so far).
For all these reasons, Health is trying to stop this fifth wave as soon as possible, which is also putting the already damaged regional tourism sector in check.
Health reported yesterday 124 new cases corresponding to Sunday, a very high figure for the weekend. Cartagena accumulated the highest number of positives (37), followed by Murcia (18) and Mazarrón (13). The incidence rate continues with its unstoppable rise and already stands at 158.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. Infections among young people are behind this increase. Among the population aged 20 to 29, the incidence reaches 490 cases per 100,000, and in the age group 12 to 19 it reaches 368.5.
A serious baby and two pregnant women in critical condition
Among the 14 people who are currently admitted by Covid in the ICUs of the Region there are two pregnant women, 29 and 40 years old, who are in critical condition. Both entered the Santa Lucía, but had to be transferred to La Arrixaca, where they remain connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) equipment. This machine allows you to oxygenate the blood and supply the functions of the lungs. ECMO has become the last alternative for some Covid patients who no longer respond to mechanical ventilation. The doctors had to induce the labor of one of the two patients two weeks ago in the Santa Lucía, before the transfer to La Arrixaca. The baby, who tested positive at birth, remains in Neonatology at the Cartagena hospital and is evolving favorably, according to health sources.
Pregnant women are at higher risk of severe Covid. A study in the scientific journal ‘JAMA’ also warns that the coronavirus increases by 50% the risk of complications, such as premature birth.
Therefore, vaccination is key. The national strategy includes administering doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (messenger RNA vaccines) to pregnant women at the appropriate time by age group, regardless of the week of gestation.