Over 1,150 coronavius patients in ICU; Doctors pleased with increased testing

A hospital isolation room
A hospital isolation roomsudok1DepositPhotosDeposit Photos

A total of 1,152 people were being treated for the coronavirus in intensive care units across the Netherlands as of 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, according to figures released by foundation NICE. That is 80 more than on Tuesday morning. All in all, ICUs in the country have treated 1,450 Covid-19 patients. A total of 176 of them succumbed to the virus, others recovered and were discharged.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health announced that the Netherlands will quadruple its daily number of coronavirus tests in the coming weeks. The tests will first be expanded to test more health workers, and eventually tests will be made available to people outside healthcare. Currently, hospital workers are only tested if they show symptoms that could indicate the virus.

Around 4 thousand coronavirus tests are currently carried out in the Netherlands per day. De Jonge wants that to increase to 17,500 in a few weeks, and eventually to 29 thousand a day. 

Alex Friedrich, head of the department of microbiology and infection prevention at UMC Groningen, is very pleased with the increased testing, he said to NOS. "I think the message has finally arrived that healthcare institutions can accelerate the epidemic. In other countries, we saw that infected healthcare workers could infect about 20 to 30 colleagues, because the spread in healthcare institutions is much faster." 

Testing healthcare workers before they start showing symptoms can slow down that spread, Friedrich said. Another advantage is that healthcare workers will know for sure whether they have the coronavirus. This will allow healthcare workers with something else like a cold or the flu to return to work immediately after they recovered, Friedrich said.