* People are becoming sicker in second wave than first one due to new UK variant
There has been an 82% increase in the number of people receiving treatment in intensive care units (ICUs) with Covid-19 in the past two weeks, a senior health official has said.
Addressing a press conference organised by the Ministry of Public Health Wednesday, Dr Ahmed al-Mohamed, acting chairman of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)'s Intensive Care Units, said around 40% of cases in intensive care during the current wave are under the age of 50 years, and some are in their 30s.
Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at HMC, also addressed the press conference.
"The new UK variant has contributed to the increase in the number of new daily cases in Qatar. And, worryingly, we are now seeing a very high number of people becoming very sick due to Covid-19 and requiring admission to hospital to manage their symptoms and even admission into ICU for life-saving treatment," Dr Ahmed al-Mohamed.
It is clear that people are becoming sicker in this second wave of the virus than the first wave due to the new UK variant, the official added.
Dr al-Mohamed said, "In just the past two weeks we have seen an 82% increase in people in ICUs with Covid-19 and a 58% increase in people in hospitals with Covid-19. We have also sadly had 13 deaths due to Covid-19 in the past two weeks."
It is very important that people seek help early — as soon as they notice the signs and symptoms — as the earlier treatment can be given, the better the chances of a full recovery, he stressed. This is particularly important for the older members of the community and those with chronic diseases.
He said a number of hospitals have been designated to provide appropriate healthcare to those affected, as required. There are five dedicated facilities for the treatment of Covid-19 cases, and a specialised centre has been added. An entire floor of the facility can be converted into an intensive care unit.
The UK variant has the potential to cause more severe symptoms if left untreated, so the importance of early intervention cannot be overstated, he said. Those with mild to moderate symptoms can still stay under home isolation.
With the rise in Covid-19 cases causing a significant risk to both patients and healthcare staff, the majority of outpatient services in hospitals and primary health centres have been moved from face-to-face appointments to virtual services.
Despite this, the healthcare system remains active and is providing care and support across all essential services via a range of telemedicine services, he noted.
With healthcare staff now working round the clock to care for patients with Covid-19, it is important that the public supports the health system by only visiting emergency departments or calling 999 for serious, life-threatening medical conditions.
"Please remember that our Urgent Care Service is available to support you for any urgent, but non-life threatening condition, via the main helpline on 16000," he added.