By Staff Writer

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony has assured that contingency plans are in place should the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Infectious Disease Hospital be overwhelmed by the surge in COVID-19 severe cases.

Dr. Anthony said yesterday that the number of patients, who require additional care, has increased drastically over the last week, noting that this change is likely brought on by the existence of variants in the country. While the Ministry has not confirmed the existence of variants in the country, the evidence, according to the Minister, strongly suggests that a more infectious and deadly strain is making the rounds.

The ICU is also near exhaustion with 33 of its 40 beds occupied. Minister Anthony said that a plan is in place to have more beds added to the unit.

“We have 80 persons at the Ocean View facility (Infectious Disease Hospital). We can accommodate about 200 persons at Ocean View. We have right now 33 persons in the ICU. We have capacity for about 40 in the ICU. We are working to expand that so that we can add probably another 10 beds. So, if it becomes necessary, we’ll be able to have ten more beds so we can accommodate at least 50 persons in the ICU. So that’s a contingency that we’re putting in place.”

Should those ten additional beds prove to be insufficient, the official said that the Ministry will enact another contingency plan by adding ‘maybe 50’ more beds to the hospital. If those become overwhelmed, the Ministry can covert other hospitals to cater for COVID-19 patients.

“We’ve already spoken about other contingencies where we might have, if it becomes necessary, to close some of the services at other hospitals and convert those hospitals solely for COVID patients. So, if it becomes necessary, that is what we’ll have to do. And of course, we’ll activate the field hospitals as well. So, we have considered some of the next steps if the cases go up, and the medical team at the Ocean View facility has been looking at this very closely.”

The Minister expressed worry at the increase in number of active cases and stressed the need for persons to be more cautious, noting that nonadherence to measures can have debilitating effects on the health system.

“So, we are getting more cases. Right now, 1,933 active cases. So, that’s a high number. We’ve also had, over the last 24 hours, 145 active cases – new cases being discovered. The numbers are climbing. We’re seeing more people getting infected and it is also very worrying, and if we don’t manage this carefully, our hospitals can easily become overwhelmed. Right now, we have 111 in hospital, and as you can see, that number is going up on a daily basis.”


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