- As number in intensive care stabilizes, deaths per unit time decrease
- Statistical analysis is highly preliminary, doctors caution
- Umeå residents are practicing social distancing, but less than in early April, Google analysis indicates
- Only one new case of coronavirus confirmed today
ÅLIDHEM – As a third day passed with no new coronavirus deaths reported in Västerbotten, a pattern is beginning to emerge in survival data which suggests that fewer people now, compared to early April, are dying from the infection, relative to the number in intensive care. Statistics published today by regional officials show that although the intensive care count has remained relatively steady between 8 and 13 since April 6 — the day the first death was reported — the mortality rate itself has declined.
Umeå intensive care operational head Johan Thunberg cautioned, however, that the data is not strong enough to draw an absolute conclusion about an increase in the survival rate. “We have too little material to start looking at survival statistics and the like,” he told Västerbottens-Kuriren, “but we can say this: in essence, our pattern is following what we have seen elsewhere” in Sweden.
Thunberg was referring to a mid-April report at Karolinska University Hospital, when its chief medical officer David Konrad told SVT television that there was a “slight slowdown” in the percentage dying in, rather than being released from, intensive care.
“It may be temporary; it’s too early to say,” Konrad explained, “but things are looking a little better.”
Thunberg said that “in the beginning, the situation was rather bleak”, but over time, Umeå doctors have changed the way that they treat patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. One change has been in the way that they use breathing tubes. At the beginning, they would place tubes through the mouth. Now, however, they insert the tubes through a hole in the throat, beneath the vocal cords. This requires less intense anesthesia, which makes it easier, in some cases, for the body to heal itself, doctors suspect.
Thunberg also told the paper that the hospital is “well prepared” for the Umeå coronavirus peak, which according to the most recent assessments is expected in June. The peak is defined as the time when the city’s medical facilities have their highest burden due to the pandemic. Umeå intensive care nurse Veronica Frost told SVT this morning that Umeå hospital is not facing the kind of burden that Stockholm hospitals are. “We are set up to allow 50 patients to be treated in intensive care at one time in Umeå,” she said. “So far, our health care staff is matching pace with what’s going on, so there is no chaos.”
“I think there will be more patients than there are today,” he said, “but I’m not entirely convinced we will get a huge wave. But, this is all on the condition that residents continue to behave properly and maintain social distancing.”
Umebor continue to practice social distancing, although less so than in early April, figures from Google showed today. In Google’s Mobility Report from the period of March 15 to April 26, the amount of visits to normally crowded places like stores, transit stations, and the workplace has stayed considerably below pre-pandemic levels. The mobility report is an aggregate of statistics of where and when people have moved about, as tracked by Google through global positioning systems.
The mobility report for Västerbotten shows that just after the announcement of the first deaths — the week after April 6 — there was a prominent spike in the amount of time people spent at home and away from crowded spaces. However, that spike ended about a week later.
Västerbotten officials announced only one more case of confirmed coronavirus in the region today, with 19 in the hospital and nine in intensive care, a drop of one each.
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