Health professionals at the emergency room of Conde de São Januário’s Hospital Center paint a more serious scenario now that a third of the service has tested positive for Covid-19. According to interviews done by PLATAFORMA, staff workers at the hospital say it is impossible to count the number of deaths associated with the virus, and highlight that the “whole hospital environment is full of viruses”
Macau had been implementing strict control measures in line with Mainland China’s dynamic zero-case policy. However, in November, there was a sharp turnaround in the attitude of the Central Government and the Macau government. For the first time, there was a relaxation of pandemic prevention measures and the number of detected cases increased considerably.
The director of the Health Bureau, Alvis Lo, revealed during an interview on Radio Macau’s “Macau Talk” program on Wednesday (21), that there are currently more than 300 people hospitalized, of which about 100 are severe cases, with more than 80 percent of the severe cases being related to comorbidities and 10 percent of the cases involving health professionals.
Although several community clinics have come into operation, there are still many residents who feel helpless in seeking help.
Kiki, a mother of two who resides in Areia Preta, tells PLATAFORMA that her two-year-old son tested positive and had been for the week with a high fever and chills.
She first took her son to a community clinic, but she says that even after he took his medication, he still had high fevers (41 and 42 degrees). She then immediately decided to take her son to the emergency rooms, both at the Conde de São Januário Hospital Center and at the private hospital, Kiang Wu, where many adults and children were waiting to be seen. He waited almost two hours until his son saw a doctor, and when he tried to buy antipyretic medication, he couldn’t.
“We all pray for the protection of children, but it’s really hard to see a doctor when there are positive cases. Only after going to a private clinic where she had to “beg for a doctor’s appointment,” her son finally received an injection to reduce his fever. However, he still has a high fever, and her husband has taken them both to an isolation hotel so as not to infect the few-month-old baby they have at home.
The New Coronavirus Contingency Coordination Center issued a press release on Tuesday (20) saying that now that the new coronavirus has spread in the community, the Health Services have issued new guidelines, for all medical facilities to receive infected or suspected infected persons in urgent need of medical care.
NO DISTANCE BETWEEN BEDS
Some doctors at Conde S. Januário Hospital revealed to PLATAFORMA that there is a shortage of health professionals, as doctors, nurses, and assistants have tested positive and cannot go to work. Basically, a third of the emergency service staff had to be absent from work due to the diagnosis, they say. This has led to duty time being reduced from three to two shifts, with some health staff even being on call for 12 hours straight.
The shortage of nursing staff has also led to overcrowding in the emergency department and its triage area for patients. At the same time, there are not enough beds for patients and many of the elderly have been placed in wheelchairs or regular chairs. Some suffer from incontinence, but due to staff shortages, there are not enough people to assist them and change their diapers.
“There is no distance between hospital beds. Those who are not positive can become infected. Even if the medical staff wear protective clothing, they cannot protect themselves. The whole hospital environment is full of viruses.”
A week after the relaxation of measures to combat Covid-19, health professionals heard by PLATAFORMA say that the emergency room at Conde São Januário has become a “disaster.”
Many of the elderly who were referred from nursing homes to the hospital had high fever and could not move, and there are no negative pressure machines (to exchange air) in the observation room for confirmed patients.
One of the health professionals worries that some affected departments will decide not to accept any more patients, while emergency room patients cannot be transferred at all.
COVID-19 DEATHS ARE NOT ACCOUNTED FOR
It also points out that many of the patients referred to the temporary medical post at the Macau East Asian Games Sports Nave are mostly elderly. And that they are more easily diagnosed as “natural deaths” in case there are not enough professionals to do the triage.
The official questions whether the government can accurately screen patients, considering that the efficiency of the four levels of screening is low and the true number of deaths caused by Covid-19 is not known.
“It is similar to how other foreign countries dealt with this at the beginning of the pandemic. When these patients are referred to the emergency rooms and they are short of materials and professionals, there may be elderly people who die without realizing they were with Covid-19,” he points out.
“However, the number of Covid-19 deaths is not correct because it only includes the death that is confirmed, but did not include those who are sent by the Sports Nave or those who were sent by ambulance but died on the way.”
MP Ron Lam U Tou points out, for example, that according to the Health Services, the first case of Covid-19 death was discovered when the patient had already died.
On December 13, the first Covid-19-related death was reported in Macau since prevention measures were relaxed. Health officials said the patient, aged 80, was sent to a community treatment center for treatment during the morning of the same day.
“But how was it discovered then? The Health Services have yet to explain in detail,” he criticizes.
The MP believes that the four levels of triage should offer response to sudden changes in patients’ health, through real-time monitoring, and that patients are then transferred to a higher level or for special treatment.
“I don’t see how this is being done at the moment,” he says.
At the same time, Lam warns that the number of deaths announced by the authorities are only the tip of the iceberg and that the number of severe cases is not disclosed to the population.
“The lack of transparency in data disclosure creates panic in the community, which is the worst thing that can happen. Hong Kong is not implementing a zero-case policy, but has a detailed disclosure of the various data so that the community can get an accurate picture,” he points out.
While it may not be comprehensive and accurate, the MP believes that Hong Kong has at least disclosed the number of severe and mild cases and the number of deaths in isolation facilities.
Este artigo está disponível em: Português