Friday, January 21

Euskadi suspends surgeries and outpatient consultations due to the pressure generated by COVID-19 cases

“We are in one of the worst moments of expansion of the virus”, has admitted the Basque Minister of Health, Gotzone Sagardui, after pointing out that the accumulated incidence in Euskadi reaches 745.96 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14. Gipuzkoa is with the highest rates of the entire pandemic and Vitoria and Donostia have exceeded the highest data of all of 2021. Only the drop in tests during the bank holidays is containing a daily volume of infections that, nevertheless, reaches 1,251 in the last 24 hours with a positivity greater than 12%. And above all, everything comes “on the eve of dates with frequent social interactions” such as Christmas. Thus, Sagardui has anticipated that new limiting measures for leisure and social life are envisaged after having renounced to implement them before the bridge and without specifying excessively what they are thinking about beyond the already announced -but undated- plan to expand using the COVID passport or working to improve “ventilation” protocols in enclosed spaces. Of course, the growing hospital pressure – COVID-19 cases in the ICU are already 31% of total admissions, a few points from the 35% that is already considered critical – has already pushed to suspend scheduled surgeries and non-urgent consultations in hospitals and outpatient clinics throughout the Osakidetza network.

10,800 Basques have started their vaccination since the COVID passport was announced

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There are 334 patients admitted with COVID-19 in Basque hospitals and 74 of them are critically ill in the ICU. They are 50% in just a week and Sagardui herself has admitted that there is no short-term forecast that the wave will reach its peak. They are better care levels than in the first waves but worse than those registered in summer. And that – the counselor has emphasized – generalized vaccination is reducing by five times the probability of developing severe symptoms among those infected. “We continue in a worrying situation. It forces us to schedule fewer surgeries. We will proceed to postpone consultations that are not particularly urgent, such as follow-up consultations for chronic patients (heart failure, chronic bronchitis), but we will always guarantee those that cannot wait”, has explained. Salud also admits that there will be delays in analytics, presumably due to the greater need to use laboratories to process all diagnostic tests for suspected COVID-19 cases.

Sagardui has indicated that “acute health problems will be prioritized”, Sintrom treatments and, of course, COVID-19 pictures. In addition, he has asked the population for peace of mind and that the information switchboards do not collapse to clarify whether or not a query continues on date and time. If there are changes or cancellations – Sagardui has repeated – it will be Osakidetza who gets in touch to notify those affected in advance. “We will carry out weekly monitoring” of these cancellations, reported the Health Minister, who a few weeks ago after the end of the previous wave, had hoped to restore normality in health care by the end of 2021, an objective that is already unattainable.

The Basque Country has also implicitly admitted that it accumulates significant delays in the tracker network. The latest report reveals that more than 70% of cases escape their radar. For this reason, without offering the concrete data of how many personnel make up a team that had 700 operators at other times of great transmission and that already in summer was at 500, he has explained a “change of protocol” to speed up the performance of tests. Whoever tests positive must offer a “list of his close contacts” and these, “without waiting for the call” from the trackers, “will receive an SMS for the test.” “We will ensure that the contacts have a test even earlier and that the appropriate isolation measures are adopted,” explained the Minister of Health. Sagardui has indicated that the high community transmission “makes this work difficult”, although he has guaranteed that the Government “has been reinforcing the number of professionals for weeks.” However, it has been confirmed that those vaccinated with the complete regimen will continue without quarantining if they test negative.

Sagardui has also confirmed that Spain has already approved the master lines of the vaccination plan for children under 12 years of age, the only group pending. He explained that on December 13 the first pediatric formulas will be received and has highlighted Osakidetza’s operational capacity to activate citations as soon as possible. In this context, he has rejected any type of possibility of reconsidering the educational presence in Primary. This Monday, students aged 6 to 12 had an incidence rate above 2,000 points, triple the average.