Pressure mounts in Swedish hospitals as COVID-19 patients in ICU double

STOCKHOLM, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Pressure is mounting on Swedish hospitals as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) almost doubled over just one week, Swedish Television (SVT) reported on Monday.

According to the report, in one week, the number of hospitalizations in ICUs in the country has increased rapidly from 30 to 56 throughout the country.

"We should be really worried," Karin Modig, an associate professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institute, told SVT on Monday, adding this is a result of "the increasing spread of infections that we have had for a few weeks."

"This means that we can expect it to continue upwards for a couple of more weeks no matter what we do," said Modig, explaining that the delay from the time of infection to a person being cared for on intensive care units is between one to two weeks, depending on age.

Although there have yet been any official explanations about the increase, Modig believed that the reopening of schools and workplaces, more people traveling by public transport and increased cluster infections in connection with student parties during summer were contributing factors. She stressed that the infections spread to all ages groups, not just among young people.

"The increase in the intensive care units shows that it is not only young people who are infected. The median age of these people is around 60 years, so we have the spread of infection in several age groups." she added.

Concerns are also growing about how the hospital staff will cope with a second wave at the hospitals.

"We are afraid that we will end up in the same situation as in the spring. Do we have the strength, can we take care of our employees?" Cornelia Hartel, chief physician at Sodersjukhuset's emergency unit in Stockholm,told SVT.

"(We are)Quite seriously worried considering if we can still maintain control. We have done it before, but this intensive care patients increase is a signal of how fast it can go in the wrong direction," Modig added.

According to the figures released by the Swedish Public Health Agency on Monday, three new deaths have been reported since yesterday. A total of 5,933 people have now died after being infected with COVID-19 in Sweden. 110,594 people have been confirmed infected with COVID-19, which is an increase of 1,625 cases since Thursday. 2,663 people receive or have received intensive care since the beginning of the pandemic.

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