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Uga Dumpis: Slimnīcā no kovida un gripas nevar pasargāt nevienu

Doctors raise alarm over Covid spreading in hospitals

Medical workers raise the alarm that the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing again in Latvian hospitals. Almost none of those found to have the infection have got a booster jab this year. Although in Latvia the annual vaccine is available to everyone and free of charge, residents have little interest in it, Latvian Television reported on November 14.

Hospitals are already looking at different options for how to work if the number of Covid patients becomes critical again. Infectologist Uga Dumpis said that the Covid morbidity peak is still to be expected and is likely to be parallel to the flu epidemic.

None of the people met at Stradiņš Hospital by LTV have been vaccinated against Covid this autumn. 

“I don't know if I need to repeat.” 

“I haven't been sick with Covid, I haven't been sick with the flu either. Decades. They don't stick.” 

“We have had it, […] if we get sick - we get sick.”

“I don't see a huge point in that.” 

But Covid is already present in the Stradins. This weekend, 45 patients in different departments have been found to have the condition and the numbers continue to climb.

Jānis Gardovskis, head of the hospital surgery clinic, said that Covid once again “has changed, got different.”

“Patients and staff are getting infected and sick a lot. Yes, it's a lighter form, but as a surgeon, I have to say that after surgeries, patients have a much heavier recovery [if they are ill],” the doctor noted.

Doctor Kārlis Rācenis is again wearing a face mask and respirator.

“The illness is not that severe. But there are those risk groups for whom supposedly light symptoms turn into serious. It's very difficult at the hospital stage. No one wants the Covid departments again,” said Rācenis.

The experience of doctors at Riga East Hospital shows that often it's the loved ones who come to visit those in the hospital and bring the virus along with juice and tangerines.

So doctors are asking and urging those with signs of cough, runny nose, or other illnesses not to visit their loved ones in hospitals.

“Cough, sneeze. Comes with a runny nose. Bring with you young children who are sick. There are often cases of a severely ill relative getting an infection. We've already had a number of outbreaks like this in both the oral disease and surgery profile wards. Now we very much ask only visitors without any symptoms of illness to come,“ said Aleksejs Višņakovs, head of the RAKUS Emergency Medicine Clinic.

Uga Dumpis, head of infection monitoring at Stradiņš Hospital, said that “both staff and patients are sick, and a large proportion are infected at the hospital.”

'We had two waves at the same time last year, influenza and Covid, and that made hospital work hard. It's hard to say this year. We're in a wave of Covid, maybe the next one will come after a while, but maybe it'll keep climbing,” Dumpis said.

Last year, the flu flared up unexpectedly early - in December. This year it is forecast in January.

For patients with planned surgeries, doctors strongly recommend vaccinating against both Covid and flu. Covid vaccine is free for everyone. The flu vaccine is available free of charge to seniors aged 65 and over and other at-risk groups. Both jabs can be received at the same time.

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