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How S. Korea is dealing with hospital bed availability for critically ill COVID-19 patients Updated: 2020-11-27 17:04:32 KST

With South Korea experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 infections, 77 patients are currently on artificial respiration, and about 20-percent of them are aged 60 or over.
The government said on Friday that there are only 100 hospital beds available nationwide for patients who are critically ill.

"With 100 beds in total for critically ill patients we believe there isn't too much of a problem in being able to treat them for now. But if the current trend continues for two weeks more, we may experience problems."

The nation plans to secure 200 more hospital beds by the end of this year, and 450 more in the first-half of next year.
A doctor from a large medical center in Seoul says its hospital beds are fully occupied with patients.

"If the daily number of cases continues to be over 400 for a month,there's going to be at least 150 critically ill patients. If this happens, we would not be able to accommodate all of them with the amount of beds we currently have."

As 44 of the 100 are in the greater Seoul area, there are concerns about availability in other parts of the country.
Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said on Friday that authorities should make sure that medical infrastructure remains available in places such as Gangwon-do and Jeolla-do provinceswhere there is a relatively small number of beds.
The government is also running 14 community treatment centers which can accommodate 3-thousand people,for those who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
Currently, with 1,600 people being treated in these centers, they are 54-percent full.
The government plans to create more through cooperation with local authorities, especially in the capital area where most of the confirmed cases come from.
Bae Eun-ji, Arirang News.
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