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Hospitals to set up hundreds more isolation beds

2020-03-04 HKT 18:51
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  • Hospitals to set up hundreds more isolation beds
Jimmy Choi reports
Health officials said on Wednesday that some general wards in public hospitals are going to be converted into isolation rooms, to provide up to 500 more beds for coronavirus patients.

The Hospital Authority said currently, only about 30 percent of its 1,200 isolation beds are occupied right now, so it has enough to cope with the outbreak for the moment.

But in case the situation worsens and there are wider community outbreaks, the authority is planning to turn some general wards into negative pressure facilities – rooms where the air can flow in, but not escape.

Dr Libby Lee, the authority's director of strategy and planning, said they hope to have an extra 400 to 500 beds in wards with the enhanced ventilation facilities by the end of April.

These converted isolation wards won't be as well-protected as the ones currently in use, which were built according to top isolation standards.

But each of the makeshift isolation rooms will be equipped with an exhaust unit that will filter the air inside before it is let out.

Lee said the wards will only be used to isolate patients with a lower risk, like those no longer showing any symptoms of the virus.

"In order to free up more isolation facilities for the confirmed and suspected cases, we find that we need to have a more protected environment for the patient, but not to that high standard," she said.

For the longer term, the authority is also planning to further increase the number of standard isolation wards for any future outbreaks, and to revamp Princess Margaret Hospital which houses an infectious disease centre.