TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced Tuesday (May 25) that 423 COVID-19 cases have been categorized as severe, with 99 on ventilators.
At a press conference, CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said 423 cases had been diagnosed as severely ill between April 15 and May 25. Of these, 357 have severe pneumonia and 139 are close to respiratory failure, with 99 requiring ventilators.
He said the percentage of patients that are seriously ill has risen from less than 10 percent last year to 11 percent this year. Among patients aged 60 and over, 20 percent are seriously ill.
As of Tuesday, there were 99 patients on ventilators, an increase of 15 from the previous day. Two patients required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
Chang asserted that the reason why the percentage of severe cases has increased is that the average age of the patients is higher, and they are infected with the variant first identified in the U.K., known as the Kent variant or B.1.1.7.
According to Chang, about 38 percent of patients in this wave are over the age of 60. What makes matters worse is the fact that many of these patients have chronic diseases, he added.
In these patients, the COVID-19 has progressed rapidly after infection, quickly developing into pneumonia. As has been the case in many recent deaths, the condition had already worsened by the time they sought medical treatment, at which time it may have been late for doctors to save them, said Chang.
Chang added that when many patients are diagnosed, their Ct value is quite low, which means the viral load in their bodies is very high. This high viral load is characteristic of the U.K. variant, he pointed out.