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Critical care given to elderly patients

Updated: Apr 22, 2022 China Daily Print
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Medical workers help an elder use QR code for nucleic acid test at a community in Shanghai, April 9, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shanghai is providing comprehensive treatment and paying extra attention to elderly COVID-19 patients, especially those with severe infections, to alleviate their underlying conditions while treating them with antiviral therapies.

The Shanghai Health Commission said on Thursday that there are 139 severely ill COVID-19 cases and 20 others in critical condition at designated hospitals as of Wednesday, adding that patients with underlying conditions and diseases, especially the elderly, have a higher risk of their infections developing into severe cases.

"Medical teams should strengthen monitoring of such patients in the early stages, and intervene as soon as possible to prevent a mild case from developing into a severe one," said Wu Qianyu, an official from the commission.

On Thursday afternoon, China Daily visited the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, a designated hospital for treating severe infections citywide, and found that its treatment buildings have been divided into five parts, including one for the elderly and those at high risk.

A total of 293 COVID-19 patients aged 60 and above are receiving treatment in the center, of whom 114 are more than 80 years old, according to Ling Yun, deputy head of the center.

He said that an 82-year-old patient is in critical condition. Seventeen others, with an average age of 80.4, are classified as severe cases.

"A number of the elderly with infections have underlying diseases, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular problems, tumors or vital organ dysfunction," he said, adding that 18 are being given respiratory support.

While monitoring severe cases in the early stages, the center has taken measures to intervene to help reduce the severity of the cases, with psychological aid and more care for them to alleviate their anxiety, he said.

"We've set up medical expert teams for the elderly in line with their different underlying diseases, including those specializing in neurology, cardiology and oncology. We carry out joint physical tests on the patients and provide them with comprehensive treatment regimens," he said.

Additionally, medical professionals who are not physically at the center can offer online guidance and studies for difficult and complicated COVID-19 patients, he added.

In Huashan Hospital's Baoshan branch, a designated hospital for moderate and severe cases, more than one-third of the patients receiving treatment are aged 70 and above, including 25 aged 90 or older. Most of them suffer from underlying conditions, according to Qin Lunxiu, head of the designated hospital.

He said they have also integrated a team of experts inside and outside the hospital to regularly conduct multidisciplinary consultations for difficult and severe cases.

"We've increased the frequency of ward rounds for elderly cases, with strengthened dynamic monitoring and more humanistic care," he added.

The commission said that Shanghai registered eight COVID-19 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the city's ongoing outbreak to 25. The average age of those that died on Wednesday was 77.5, with the eldest 93. Only two of them were vaccinated. All of them had suffered from severe underlying diseases, which were contributing factors in the cause of their deaths.

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