A lot has already happened this year. SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) which can cause COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) has been making headlines shortly after it was first reported. The first cases were reported to WHO (World Health Organization) on 2019-12-31. The virus spread. It began as an epidemic in China . The world watched apprehensively. Reports surfaced of cases in other countries and the the apprehension grew. For many folk, it turned to fear when it was upgraded to a pandemic: WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020: "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."
We have seen increasing efforts to stem the spread of the disease. Efforts have run the gamut. Closing of borders. Cancellation of sporting events. Conferences cancelled. Churches and other places of worship also closed. Schools closed. Panic buying of household goods and supplies. Supply chain disruptions affecting manufacturers. Restaurant, bars, and other such establishments closed. Work-from-home policies established and enacted.
The changes have been many, widespread, and continuing.
Reading about all the ways that "other people" have been affected is one thing. It seems different, somehow, when it hits closer to home and affects us directly. With many of our usual social activities curtailed or cancelled, it is easy to begin isolating and lose perspective. SoylentNews arose from a troubled period (the SlashCott) and a community has formed from that challenging period.
How have you been affected? Have you been infected? Had a family member or friend who was? Helped neighbors who are struggling? Hunkering down and isolating? (In a basement is optional.) Are you suddenly working from home and finding it challenging to manage your time? Still working on site, but now have a faster commute due to all the other people staying home? Catching up on watching TV shows? Reading more SoylentNews? How has your life changed?
From a somewhat different perspective, how have others helped you to cope... and how have you been able to help others? One of the potential impacts of social distancing is isolation and depression. I count myself fortunate, indeed, to have served this site for over 6 years and for all the people I have gotten to know, here. For those who may not be aware, SoylentNews has its own IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server. Feel free to drop in to #Soylent and just say "Hi!"
Social distancing is permanent when you're dead. So, practice good hygiene and stay safe.
Previously (oldest first):
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
Working from Home: Lessons Learned Over 20 Years
It should not be exaggerated, either. So let's take a look at some numbers.
The latest (March 17) figures [rainews.it] state that there are currently 26.062 corona patients in Italy; 2060 of them are in intensive care. How much should this stress the Italian hospital system?
Italy had a population of 60.4 million people in 2017. In that same year, it had 261.530 [europa.eu] nurses and caring professionals working in 1.063 [statista.com] hospitals.
Italy has 262.5 [europa.eu] hospital beds per 100.000 citizens. I couldn't find any numbers for ICU beds in Italy, but if we take the lower of the lowest number in Europe, the UK (3.5-7.4 [nih.gov] beds per 100,000 inhabitants), that should still work out to 2,100 ICU beds for Italy.
They are also certainly not laggards in medical technology: scoring in the top 5 for CT, PET and MRI scanner deployments [oecd.org]. That indicates that the number of ICU beds is probably much higher too: in Belgium, there are about 150 ICU beds per million inhabitants: in Italy terms that would come down to about 9,000 ICU beds in total.
In short, we've got 100 nurses per corona patient, the limit in the number of ordinary ICU beds has not yet been reached, and this is a hospital system which is at the forefront in terms of technological infrastructure.
As a final note, a video akin to the one I mentioned in my previous post, has been published today: this time however, the critical situation was not in an Italian hospital. The setup was identical though: a crying nurse, claiming disaster in the intensive care department. The location, this time: the Saint-Luc hospital, in Brussels. For your info: there are a little over 1,700 intensive care unit beds in Belgium, and there's a current total of 360 corona patients in hospital -- 58 of them, I believe, are in intensive care.
For your info: there are a little over 1,700 intensive care unit beds in Belgium, and there's a current total of 360 corona patients in hospital -- 58 of them, I believe, are in intensive care.
How many empty ICU beds are there in Belgium?
Presumably some of the total beds are occupied by patients with conditions other than coronavirus.
The question is how many are actually available vs. how many you will need for a given speed of outbreak and trying to keep it below the system-breaking-point.
Indeed. I've got no numbers for that, but all non-critical treatments have been suspended. One can assume that the vast majority of ICU beds are, in normal times, intended for post-surgery patients. As there are little to no surgeries anymore, the number of available ICU beds must be quite substantial. As a conservative estimate, take 60 percent: that's still about 1,200 ICU beds available, for 58 patients (currently), after 3-4 weeks of infection spread. Take the extreme case, with the number of intensive care patients doubling every day from now on: that would come down to about 5 days runway for that number. We know from Chinese research that after day 8, the patient either has died, or survives, and can be moved to ventilation only. So we need another 3 days runway, or about 900 additional beds.
That might become the reality. Current reality, though, is that we -- and the Italians -- currently not have reached that maximum capacity, and there's no need for triaging, nor is it a disaster situation, yet.