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Patient in Coronavirus Isolation (dramatized)
Patient in Coronavirus Isolation (dramatized)

Serious Coronavirus Case Numbers Rise Rapidly as Students Worry About Corridor Infections

• 39 confirmed infections in Västerbotten, with seven now in the hospital • Officials release video of what it is like being a coronavirus inpatient • International student: danger of virus spread in corridors could make them "Västerbotten's Little Italy"
  • 39 confirmed infections in Västerbotten, with seven now in the hospital
  • Officials release video of what it is like being a coronavirus inpatient
  • International student: danger of virus spread in corridors could make them “Västerbotten’s Little Italy”

ÅLIDHEM – The number of patients hospitalized in Västerbotten for serious coronavirus cases has risen dramatically over the past day, to seven total with three in intensive care. Västerbotten County said that these patients “are receiving, for example, oxygen, fever reducers, IV therapy, and ventilator treatment.” There are now 39 known cases in Västerbotten, more than double what there were nine days ago.

Patients are hospitalized when they have “generalized symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and others,” said Umeå Hospital infections clinic operations head Helena Lindmark. The region released a video today intended to demonstrate the experience of a coronavirus patient in isolation at the hospital. Umeå Today’s English translation is below the video:

TRANSLATION: If a patient is suspected of having or confirmed to have the new coronavirus, and at the same time needs to go into the hospital, he or she is first cared for in the infectious diseases clinic. This can be, for example, if there is difficulty breathing or other symptoms which make it impossible for the patient to stay at home. In the hospital, patients can receive oxygen, fever reducers, IV therapy, ventilators, or many other forms of treatment.

Patients arrive with acute infections, or by ambulance, and come into the room through an outer, locked door. Deep inside the clinic, patients are cared for and isolated to avoid infecting other patients in the department. If you are isolated, you cannot leave the room. Staff who handle the patients come into the room through an inner, locked door, where they put on necessary protective equipment. Staff try to minimize the number of times that they have to visit the patients. This is mainly to preserve protective equipment.

Of course, patients are not ignored, but rather we come in as often as necessary. In the room there is a television and WiFi. Patients cope with this rather well, so food is served on a tray inside the door to minimize the number of times personnel have to visit the patient.

Right now, there is a ban on visits at the hospital, and of course, that also applies to the infectious diseases clinic. The goal is that we can treat patients here, and then that they can go home. How long patients are isolated in the infectious diseases clinic depends upon how long they need inpatient services.

Region Västerbotten

Västerbotten has also launched a new website with a self-assessment test for visitors to determine if they should call a doctor when showing coronavirus symptoms. Local health authorities say that they want Umeå residents to use this website, instead of the previous national one, because it analyzes cases by incorporating data specific to this region of the country. The online test is meant to prevent the emergency phone number 1177 from being overwhelmed.

Neighborhood health clinics, however, say that they are less busy than they were before the pandemic reached Umeå. Workers at Ålidhem hälsocentral told Umeå Today that visitor numbers have been down, because people are not coming in for, as one staff member put it, “small things, like having a pain in their knee for six months.”

A source at the hospital told Umeå Today that supplies are now being rationed that previously would have been thrown away. “We now have to reuse some materials unless they’ve been contaminated with fluids,” the source said. “We won’t throw away empty bottles of disinfectant,” such as “chlorhexadine”.

The hospital also put new visitor rules into place today. Its library is closing, but will continue some activities, officials said. Religious services, meditation, musical events, and other group meetings are cancelled indefinitely. Pastoral staff, however, are still available for consultation, say officials.

Meanwhile, students in corridors with shared kitchens and bathrooms have expressed concern that they are living in virus incubators. Eduardo de Paola, an international student from northern Italy, wrote to Umeå Today that “If the coronavirus truly breaks out in Umeå, student corridors will not be safe.”

“I share [my corridor] with 10 people. Also counting friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends, the number increases dangerously to 15-20 people which share our common areas: kitchen, living room, and stairs. Young people being often asymptomatic, this will be a real problem for the whole community, as we might spread it unconsciously,” said de Paola.

“If covid-19 spreads here,” he wrote, “the university community would become Västerbotten’s Little Italy.”

Asked for a response to students’ general worries, housing company Bostaden’s administrative head Mikael Lundgren sent Umeå Today a copy of a poster giving residents instructions on how to prevent spread of infection. It calls on corridor neighbors to wash their hands and “not expose each other to infection”.

Poster provided by Bostaden in response to student worries about contracting coronavirus in corridor housing. –Umeå Today

Finally, on a humorous note: despite numerous closings of restaurants and bars in Umeå, one in the Universum building persists: the cafe Corona. Linguistics professor Kirk Sullivan alerted Umeå Today to this, and provided a picture, just to prove it.

Linguistics professor Kirk Sullivan at cafe Corona, open for business. –Umeå Today

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