Covid-19 ICU patient total down to 275; Gov't plans big increase in ICU capacity

A man cycling through Amsterdam wearing a respirator-style medical mask
A man cycling through Amsterdam wearing a respirator-style medical mask. March 2020jaalbersDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

There were 275 Covid-19 patients in intensive care on Wednesday, a decrease of 18 since Tuesday and the lowest total since March 18. In the 41 days since the peak of 1,417 intensive care cases was reached on April 9, the number of patients being treated in ICU has gone down 39 times.

"The number of COVID patients in the ICU is falling rapidly," said Ernst Kuipers, the chair of the acute care providers network in the Netherlands. Outside the ICU, Covid-19 patients were also reducing, but at a lower rate. Only one Dutch patient was still being treated in Germany.

Of all 11,627 people with Covid-19 who have been treated in a hospital, 2,851 required intensive care. While 806 patients died in ICU, 1,232 fully recovered. Another 496 former intensive care patients were still being treated in hospitals on Wednesday, said NICE, a nonprofit which tracks intensive care statistics.

The increasing capacity has allowed hospitals to largely resume care. There were 527 patients without the coronavirus disease being treated in ICU on Wednesday, which would normally be a more average patient load in the Netherlands.

More ICU investments to nearly triple capacity

In a letter sent to Parliament on Wednesday night, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the Cabinet was prepared to invest in the structural increase in capacity of the country's intensive care units. Before the pandemic, the Netherlands had 1,150 available ICU beds, of which half were taken up at any given time for planned procedures and recoveries.

As the pandemic gripped the Netherlands, regular healthcare was largely suspended while more help was needed in ICU to care for patients. Now that the situation is more under control, and there are more ICU beds available, De Jonge called it "undesirable" to return to a situation where regular care is again scaled back.

The Netherlands will instead invest in increasing permanent ICU capacity to 1,700 spaces, with the ability to temporarily add another 1,300 ICU beds if the demand arises. While the Cabinet investigates possible bottlenecks to reaching that target, the ministry ordered more ventilator machines to sufficiently equip a total of 3,000 intensive care unit spaces.