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PM calls for efficient hospital bed management amid surge in serious COVID-19 cases

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (C) speaks during a meeting with chiefs of major hospitals in the capital area to discuss hospital bed management in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (C) speaks during a meeting with chiefs of major hospitals in the capital area to discuss hospital bed management in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum called Friday for efficient hospital bed management as the country continued to see a rising number of critically ill COVID-19 patients amid no signs of letup in daily infections.

Kim said the government's priority will be swiftly adding hospital beds and supporting medical resources needed at hospitals as quickly as possible.

"There are concerns that our journey to return to normalcy may stop for a while if we cannot overcome this crisis," Kim said during a meeting with chiefs of 22 tertiary hospitals in the Seoul metropolitan area. "We will improve our hospital bed management system."

Kim's call comes amid rising concerns over critical care bed capacity in the capital area that accounts for about 80 percent of South Korea's daily COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday, 78.2 percent of intensive care beds in the capital area were in use, with Seoul recording 80.9 percent, ringing alarm bells for health authorities.

The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients has been going up, with the latest tally surpassing 500, in recent weeks after the country started its "living with COVID-19" scheme this month with eased social distancing for people's gradual return to normal life.

Serious patients will be sent to available intensive care beds regardless of whether they are in the capital or non-capital areas, Kim said. He also asked hospitals to quickly transfer intensive care virus patients to normal recovery rooms when their health condition improves.

Kim earlier said the number of intensive care unit beds in use seems too big compared with the actual number of critically ill virus patients. (Yonhap)

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