96 Dutch in ICU with coronavirus; hospitals running low on masks
A total of 96 people in the Netherlands are in intensive care units with coronavirus Covid-19, the Dutch association for Intensive Care reported on Monday evening. Hospitals are increasingly concerned about a shortage of medical masks to protect healthcare workers and their patients.
Earlier on Monday, the Intensive Care Association said that 68 people were in ICUs with the coronavirus, NU.nl reports. According to Minister Bruno Bruins for Medical Care, the Netherlands has a total of around 1,150 ICU beds available, and that can be increased to 1,500 with various measures.
A bigger concern is the availability of protective equipment like medical masks. An impending shortage of mouth masks due ot the spreading coronavirus is perhaps hospitals' current greatest concern, a spokesperson for the Dutch association of hospitals NVZ said to newspaper Trouw. Inventories are currently being made at regional level, to find out which hospitals still have masks and how to distribute them.
Doctors and nurses are calling on citizens through social media to bring any unused medical masks they have to hospitals, where they are more needed than in people's homes. Hospitals are also hoping for new shipments of masks from abroad.
The RIVM is also investigating whether single-use masks can be cleaned and used again, according to the newspaper. The public health institute asked hospitals to collect the so-called FFB2 masks, which contain a filter, for this reason. The results of this investigation are expected on Tuesday.
Specialists in the field of respiratory protection are doubtful about the RIVM's investigation. "The filter material in such masks acts as a kind of magnet, it attracts particles such as dust, drops, bacteria or this coronavirus," expert Jan Willem de Winter said to Trouw. "The filter gets an electrostatic charge from the factory. But that force weakens, just as a regular magnet weakens. After cleaning, it can no longer be guaranteed that there will still be protection."