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Rapid increase in number of COVID-19 patients in Latvia's hospitals

On Monday, a record high number of 52 COVID-19 patients were taken to the hospital. Of all 313 patients currently in hospital, nearly a half are over 70 years of age, Latvian Television reported November 9.

More than half of all beds available for COVID-19 are currently occupied. It is worrying that nearly half of the hospitalized patients are in one of the highest risk groups: older than 70.

More than half or 54% of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients are being treated at one of Riga East Clinical University Hospital's (RAKUS) facilities: the Infectology Center, in-patient clinic at Gaiļezers, or Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Center. What could explain the rapid increase in hospitalized patients in one day?

"One of the explanations could be that, unfortunately, people's activity outside their household has not declined.

And, unfortunately, over this weekend, what could be observed was that people took advantage of the last chance to party, go to restaurants.

We can expect an even greater influx of patients in the next two weeks," said RAKUS infectologist Monta Madelāne.

Relatively many patients also receive treatment at Daugavpils regional hospital (43), Aknīstes psychoneurological hospital (26), Vidzeme hospital (21). Elsewhere, the number of people hospitalized is relatively smaller, below 20, according to data compiled by the National Health Service (NVD).

"The number of patients has increased on the weekend, so it probably won't be the GP's referral. This will be due to deteriorating health. In most cases, patients entering the hospital get there through the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD). NMPD is evaluating the patient's health status, whether to bring him to hospital or if the patient continues to be treated outpatient," said Laura Kronberga, head of the NVD inpatient services department.

It is worrying that nearly half of the patients are over the age of 70, which means they are at greater risk of being ill longer, and these people are most likely to have a lot of complications and other ailments. This is why the disease is getting worse. Similarly, RAKUS, which is the leading medical facility for coronavirus patients, has observed that patients who have been fighting the virus for two and even three weeks at home are taken to hospitals more often, their symptoms escalate, and then NMPD assistance is needed.

"In patients, [health] deterioration is happening very quickly, and in some situations very unexpected.

One may still look perfectly stable today and have a moderate course of illness, but after an hour this person needs intensive treatment. Who it will affect, we cannot really anticipate it," said infectologist Madelāne.

However, chronic diseases or the need for oxygen therapy are the red flags that a patient is in a potential risk group, sometimes also in need of intensive care, the specialist said.

As of Monday, a total of 101 people with coronavirus have died in Latvia.

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