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CORONAVIRUS/Seniors with COVID-19 should be hospitalized: CECC

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Taipei, May 25 (CNA) Seniors who contract COVID-19 should be hospitalized, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) advisor Chang Shan-chwen said Tuesday, following an uptick in deaths among senior patients.

The CECC is planning to revise its guidelines on arranging accommodation for infected people and standards for discharging patients from hospitals so beds can be made available more quickly, Chang said at a press briefing.

Seniors and people with chronic diseases are more likely to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, and so it is preferable for them to be treated in hospitals after coming down with the disease, Chang said.

Chang's comments were made after an increase in seniors dying from the disease shortly after developing symptoms.

The current spike in domestically transmitted infections has skewed older, with 38 percent over 60-years-old, according to CECC data from April 15 to May 24.

On the other hand, people who suffer mild symptoms can stay in government quarantine centers or hotels equipped with medical personnel, Chang said.

The CECC is also planning to ease restrictions so that those who recover well can be relocated from hospitals to their homes where they can continue self-isolation, Chang noted.

Patients may be discharged from hospitals after their infections have been screened for 10 days and the transmission ability of the virus inside their bodies declined significantly, he added.

Some COVID-19 patients, particularly those with mild or zero symptoms, have been asked to isolate at home pending further notification to relocate them to hospitals or designated facilities, according to CECC official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞).

As of Tuesday, 268 out of the 1,021 negative pressure wards in Taiwan remain available, with 28 in the Greater Taipei area, where most cases in the recent outbreak have been recorded, Lo said.

Out of the 3,407 hospital beds across Taiwan that are designated for COVID-19 patients, 2,202 are still available, including 419 in Taipei and New Taipei.

Hospitals have also been asked to prepare more intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients to cope with the increasing caseload, according to the CECC.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, who heads the CECC, expressed optimism that the pressure on hospital capacity will ease this week following coordinated efforts by the CECC and local governments.

Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said that strains on hospital capacity remain the biggest challenge for the city where over 1,100 infections have been reported over the past month.

Ko urged the CECC to be more flexible with its directives and simplify certain protocols so that hospitals can operate more efficiently during the current emergency.

Hospitals should be allowed to decide on certain things, such as conducting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and discharging or relocating patients, without requiring approval from the CECC, Ko said.

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