November 15, 2021 09:15
Hospital beds for seriously ill coronavirus patients in Seoul and Incheon are getting closer to full capacity just two weeks after Korea began a tentative return to normal.
The occupancy rate of hospital beds for seriously ill patients in Seoul reached 76.2 percent or 263 of all 345 available beds, health authorities said Sunday, up from 58.6 percent two weeks ago. It reached 75.9 percent or 60 of 79 beds in Incheon the same day and 71.9 percent or 189 of 263 dedicated beds in Gyeonggi Province.
Designated beds are furnished with equipment and personnel for exclusive treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The government set a conservative "red line" for hospital bed occupancy at 75 percent when a new "circuit-breaker lockdown" could kick in, and now Seoul and Incheon have crossed it.
A total of 483 seriously ill patients were in the country's ICUs on Sunday, down two from the previous day, and the maximum the health system can handle is assumed to be 500. That means only 17 beds remain available, and daily cases have been increasing. Twenty patients died on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 3,103.
But the situation is much better outside the capital region, where overall occupancy is 59.6 percent or 671 of 1,125 beds.
"We'd expected that the number of severe patients would increase," said Son Young-rae at the Health and Welfare Ministry. "We will keep monitoring their number to deal with the possible increase, but have no plan to take emergency measures in the capital region alone."
On Monday morning, the daily tally of new infections stood at 2,006 with 471 severe cases.
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the death of another teenage boy who died on Oct. 31, 72 days after he was vaccinated. They are already investigating the death of a high school senior who died 75 days after he received a Pfizer injection on Oct. 27.
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