100 critical care beds ready for coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has around 100 critical care beds ready as it braces for the coronavirus, health officials said.

Non-urgent services may have to be stood down during a peak of infection which could last weeks to months, chief medical officer Michael McBride said.

The aim is to “flatten” the main community transmission period and medical staff are in a phase of containing Covid-19.

Michael McBride
Michael McBride (Michael McHugh/PA)

One person in Northern Ireland has been diagnosed with the condition.

Around 99% of people affected will make a full recovery, while 95% will suffer mild to moderate symptoms which will not require hospital treatment, Dr McBride added.

He said: “Those numbers will change as we get data more relevant to European health care systems, maybe more aligned with ours.”

Miriam McCarthy, a director at the Health and Social Care Board, said critical care beds had been prepared.

A patient with the virus being treated in a single room will experience “negative pressure”, where air is sucked back into the room rather than mixing with other areas where some patients may have compromised immune systems.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

She said: “We are working to ensure that we protect the critical care capacity for the sickest people.

“We have about 100 beds in Northern Ireland for adults and children. We may need every bit of that capacity to deal with people infected by the virus.”

She said officials are trying to expand the number of critical care beds available but most would not need the facility.

She said acute care beds are already under pressure.

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