Occupancy rate for intensive care is 54%, about 30% with Covid 19

in News · 18-05-2020 15:49:00 · 1 Comments

he occupancy rate of intensive care units (ICU) in Portugal currently stands at 54%, with around 30% sick with covid-19, announced the Secretary of State for Health.

"Today we have an occupancy rate of around 54%, it has been between 50 and 54%, which reflects once again our capacity for expandability", said António Lacerda Sales at the daily update press conference about covid-19, held in Lisbon at the Ministry of Health.

According to the government official, between “30 to 33%” of intensive care beds are occupied by people infected with the new coronavirus, which shows that the occupancy rate of covid-19 in the ICUs has been gradually decreasing.

Regarding the mechanical ventilation capacity, Lacerda Sales stated that it was about 6.4 beds per 100 thousand inhabitants, but with "the effort that was developed", with the arrival of about 400 more fans, including donations, loans and central acquisition, increased to "713 beds, which is significant and reflects the level of expandability already interesting at this stage in terms of mechanical ventilation".

Stressing that the European average is around 11.5 beds per 100 thousand inhabitants, António Lacerda Sales defended: “it is necessary to improve and take advantage of this capacity, this renewal of our mechanical ventilation capacity to get closer and, if possible, surpass this European average”.

This increase in ventilatory capacity has "not only the objective" of increasing the capacity of the ICUs in this covid-19 phase, but also in the future with the fans that have already arrived and will arrive in the coming weeks, said the Secretary of State, adding that the fans that have already been paid for by Portugal are already at the Portuguese embassy in Beijing.


Having ICU-beds to spare sounds like great news. The problem is that we are not told about the cumulative number of Covid-19 patients admitted to ICU. Knowing how many infected people are hospitalized and, of these, how many are in intensive care each day is not enough to understand the clinical history of serious and critical cases. Put simply, does anyone know how many people have died in ICU and how many have recovered after receiving appropriate treatment (i.e. ventilation)? There is a broad consensus that the Portuguese government has taken the right and timely measures to control the spread of the novel virus. But can the Secretary of State for Health claim that the National Health System has done everything in its power to take in severe cases, namely those who fell seriously ill in care homes? (On what grounds?) I am sure that our NHS professionals are commited and up to the challenge. However, it is not simply a question of having enough free beds with ventilatorary capacity. Adequate logistics and human resources are equally needed (including trained volunteers to monitor patients remotely at an early stage of the disease). I wonder if this has always been the case.

By António Paulo Ferreira from Beiras on 20-05-2020 05:44
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