Coronavirus: Hospital beds per capita show how ready governments are to treat cases

A hospital worker is seen among hospital beds prepared in anticipation of patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at San Felipe Hospital, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Reuters)

According to the most recent data provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Japan, South Korea, and Russia have the most hospital beds per capita ranging between 13-15 beds per 1,000 individuals.

As of March 31, Japan has 1,953 active cases of the coronavirus, South Korea has 9,786, and Russia has 2,337.

But as the coronavirus spreads further across the world, governments are fearful that there will not be enough beds to accommodate the estimated number of infected patients in the coming months.

In the United States, the number of deaths from coronavirus has surpassed those reported by China, where the pandemic began in December. According to the OECD, the US has 2.770 hospital beds per 1,000 individuals. Many have questioned whether China accurately reported its death toll.

Read more: Coronavirus peak in US likely to be in 1-2 months: Yale expert

The situation in New York City, considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, is so dire that the New York stadium complex that hosts the annual US Open tennis tournament will be converted and used as a makeshift hospital to treat patients.

Last Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state is working to rapidly increase its number of hospital beds from 53,000 to 140,000 to cater to the number of infected patients it estimates it will see in the coming weeks. Specifically, Cuomo said the state of New York is in need of 40,000 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds but only has 3,000 beds at this time.

According to former US army captain Darren Porter, makeshift federal sites like the US Navy's 1,000-bed USNS Comfort ship is not enough to treat the COVID-19 patients.

“These facilities are simply not equipped to deal with or contain a virus. They’re primarily there to support the health care practitioners for things such as minor surgeries or even major surgeries in some cases such as a car accident,” Porter, who served in field hospitals in war, told CBS New York.

In Spain, where the rate of hospital beds per capita is 2.970 per 1,000 people, a skating rink in Madrid was turned into a makeshift morgue where hearses can park outside the building.

China has also built 16 makeshift hospitals in record time to accommodate all the patients who were infected with the virus. The Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus epidemic, Wuhan, closed its first makeshift hospital on March 1 after it discharged the last recovered patients, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Monday.

According to the OECD, China has a 4.340 rate of hospital beds per 1,000 people.

In India, where the hospital beds per capita is just 0.5 beds per 1,000, the fight against coronavirus is an uphill battle. The country, one of the most populous in the world, has such severe shortages of protective health gear that some doctors are using raincoats and sunglasses to fight the coronavirus.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02
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