Society 27/01/2021

More than 700 covid patients in ICUs and a "very high" hospital pressure

Health Department warns that if there is an increase, restrictions will have to be tightened, and does not rule out home lockdown

2 min
Infermeres attending a patient of covid -19 in an ICU, in an archive image.
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The director of the Catalan Health Service (Servei Català de la Salut), Adrià Comella, warns that the pandemic in Catalonia is now at "a point of very fragile balance", because the care pressure is high after more than 700 people have been admitted to intensive care units (today there are 705). Comella denies, however, that the system is approaching its collapse and trusts that the downward trend of infections will continue in order to lighten hospitals. In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio radio station, he has warned that, in spite of this tendency to contain the contagions, there can be influences of the new variants or of the neighboring communities and has said that if there is a new increase they will have to harden the restrictions.

"If things go very wrong from the point of view of infectious capacity, it is very likely that we will have to review measures", he said, and has not ruled out that it may have to reach a new home lockdown if the situation is "overflowing". This, he said, is a last resort, due to the negative effects it has both on the economy and on personal life and mental health, but has argued that it will have to be put on the table if there is a significant spike in infections. According to Comella, home lockdown has been useful in other countries to contain the advance of the virus and is a measure that should be applied in short and very intense periods to almost eliminate transmission: "Somehow the activity can always be recovered; a life that is lost cannot be recovered".

Comella has explained that we are currently moving in between 3,000 and 4,000 daily infections, but said that if the border of 4,000 is surpassed, we "would have to activate all the alarms". He pointed out that currently the Health Department has already detected between 150 and 180 cases of the British variant - in Barcelona they represent 8% of the total - and that they are prepared in case it becomes a majority.

The director of the Catalan Health Service has been very critical of the rate of arrival of vaccine doses and has assured that we are "very far" from achieving the goal of having 70% of the population immunized in summer because in Catalonia would have to be vaccinating 500,000 people a week - taking into account that two doses are needed - and that, instead, about 60,000 doses arrive weekly. "This can generate frustration", he warned, and defended that if the doses arrive they would be prepared to vaccinate 24 hours a day.

He assured that for now it is not expected that field hospitals will have to be used again, but has not ruled it out in the future if the epidemic advances. He defended the fact that staff has been hired to work in new satellite hospitals, where he said that an average of 200 people have been hired. In total this means about 1,000 and 1,200 people have been hired.

As for the 14-F elections, he recommended that campaign events be held in telematic format or in very large spaces: "We cannot deny people the right to political information". He acknowledged that "it is very striking" to skip municipal lockdown to go to a meeting, but he pointed out that it is a right.