Turkey, hospital ICU during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: ICUs in Istanbul, at 71% of their capacity

New strains of the virus such as the British one are triggering infections in Turkey and collapsing ICUs in hospitals with younger patients.

The ICUs of the hospitals in Istanbul, the most populous city in Turkey – it has 16 million inhabitants, a fifth of the country’s total population – and the main focus of coronavirus infections in the country, are already at more than 70% of its capacity due to the spread of more contagious strains such as the UK one, the Health Minister warned on Monday.

After a virtual meeting with the authorities of Istanbul and other provinces in north-western Turkey – the most populous region and the one that also face the highest contagion rates of the pandemic – Minister Fahrettin Koca explained on Twitter that the occupancy rate of the intensive care units in Istanbul is 71.4%, 73.5% in Tekirdağ, 67.1% in Çanakkale, 69% in Kırklareli, and 55.4% in Yalova.

The fact is that experts point out that variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus such as the British strain, which currently accounts for around 80% of new infections, are behind the increase in infections and the rapid spread of the coronavirus, which also it is now spreading especially among the younger population and is bringing hospital ICUs to the brink of collapse.

“The latest wave (of the pandemic) is nothing that can be compared to what we have experienced before,” said Professor İsmail Cinel, President of the Turkish Society for Intensive Care (TYBD). “We have 45-year-old patients, even 38 (in ICUs). The number of critically ill patients has not stopped growing in the last 6 weeks. The average age of people treated in ICU has dropped from 78 to 60 due to vaccination,” he added.

According to data from the Health Ministry, Turkey registered 55,149 new coronavirus positives on Monday in the last 24 hours, 2,862 with symptoms and the rest asymptomatic, so it is not expected that the occupancy of ICUs will decrease significantly at least in several weeks, despite the fact that the country has already vaccinated more than 20 million people with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.