How a second wave coronavirus patient differs from the first
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How a second wave coronavirus patient differs from the first

Credit: Belga

Belgium may be facing a second wave, with measures and changed reminiscent of the first, but according to national experts a major change is evident in the profile of those hospitalised by the virus.

While similar to the first coronavirus wave, the profile of hospitalised Covid-19 patients includes different numbers of nursing home residents and health workers, virologist and Sciensano spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said at a crisis centre press conference on Monday.

Age & Gender stay the same

The average hospitalised Covid-19 patient during the second wave is between 50 and 80 years old, Van Gucht said. Just like during the first wave, half of the patients are older than 70, and there are slightly more men (54.4%) than women in hospital.

Men are also far more represented than women in the intensive care unit, making up 68% of all ICU patients.

Nursing Homes Decrease

There are “remarkably fewer” nursing home residents in hospital than during the first wave, according to Van Gucht, who said they make 14.5% of hospitalised cases older than 65. In the first wave, they represented 1 in 4 hospitalised patients over 65 years old.

Health Workers Decrease

The proportion of health workers in hospital has also significantly decreased, from 7% in the second wave to 1.6% now.

“It is likely that health workers have become more familiar with the virus and the precautions they need to take, and that the availability of protective equipment also plays a role,” Van Gucht said.

Underlying conditions

More than 7 in 10 (71%) hospitalised patients had an underlying condition, according to Van Gucht, who underlined that that also means that nearly a third of hospital patients did not have an underlying condition.

Intensive care units also see patients with a profile similar to that during the first wave, as “the typical patient is a man in his sixties,” according to Van Gucht.

This profile only represents the first half of the second wave, Van Gucht underlined, as we need to wait for the second wave to be over to have a complete profile. The peak of patients in ICU occurred on 9 November, with 1,474 beds occupied, according to Van Gucht.

There are currently 6,518 coronavirus patients in hospital in Belgium, 1,439 of whom are in the intensive care unit. At least 535,939 have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times