A medical worker clad in protective gear works at a negative-pressure ward for patients infected with the new coronavirus at the National Medical Center in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Concerns are mounting over a possible shortage of hospital beds for novel coronavirus patients in critical condition, as daily new cases in the country continue to pile up.
South Korea reported 451 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total caseload to 34,652, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Tuesday's daily tally stayed in the 400 range for the third day in a row.
Noticeably, the number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 97 as of midnight, sharply up from 72 a day earlier.
In addition, only 66 out of 548 beds, or 12 percent, at medical facilities for such COVID-19 patients across the country are vacant as of Monday. The number is sharply down from 77 a day earlier.
A more serious problem is the number of hospital rooms for COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms that provide treatment facilities such as oxygen treatment in some parts of the country.
There are only 14, 13 and four such rooms in South Gyeongsang Province, North Jeolla Province and South Jeolla Province, respectively, with all of them already occupied, according to the KDCA.
Health authorities said it takes about five days for patients with severe symptoms to be transferred to intensive care units from when symptoms first appear. (Yonhap)