PM calls for efficient hospital bed management amid surge in serious COVID-19 cases

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) – Prime Minister Kim Bookyum on Friday called for efficient hospital bed management as the country continued to see an increase in the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients without a decrease in daily infections.

Kim said the government’s priority will be to quickly add hospital beds and support the medical resources needed in hospitals as soon as possible.

“There are concerns that our journey to normalcy may be interrupted for a while if we cannot overcome this crisis,” Kim said during a meeting with the chiefs of 22 tertiary hospitals in the greater Seoul area. “We will improve our hospital bed management system.”

Kim’s call comes amid mounting concerns about ICU bed capacity in the capital region, which accounts for about 80 percent of daily COVID-19 cases in South Korea.

By Thursday, 78.2 percent of the intensive care beds in the capital area were occupied, in Seoul it was 80.9 percent, which set the alarm bells ringing for the health authorities.

The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has risen in the past few weeks after the country began its “Living With COVID-19” program this month with facilitated social distancing for people’s gradual return to normal life, with the last number exceeded 500.

Serious patients will be sent to available intensive care beds whether they are in the capital or other areas, Kim said. He also urged hospitals to move virus patients in intensive care units quickly to normal recovery rooms when their health improves.

Kim previously said the number of beds used in the intensive care unit appears too large compared to the actual number of seriously ill virus patients.

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