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[Newsmaker] S. Korea faces shortage of hospital beds as cases on the rise

Shipping containers are set up at Seoul Medical Center in Jungnang Ward, Seoul, on Sunday, to be used to treat COVID-19 patients. (Yonhap)
Shipping containers are set up at Seoul Medical Center in Jungnang Ward, Seoul, on Sunday, to be used to treat COVID-19 patients. (Yonhap)
South Korea faces a dearth of hospital beds due to a surge in confirmed cases especially in Seoul and nearby areas.

A total of four coronavirus patients have died while waiting for hospital treatment in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, authorities said Friday.

And 251 patients, most of them severe cases, in Gyeonggi Province and 580 patients in Seoul are on standby for available hospital beds.

According to Gyeonggi Provincial government Friday, two coronavirus patients in their 70s and a patient in his 80s died under self-quarantine after failing to be assigned a hospital bed for treatment.

The three were patients at an elderly care medical facility in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province. The care center entered cohort quarantine on Dec. 11 after identifying a cluster of coronavirus cases among its patients and employees.

The care facility has reported a total of 128 coronavirus cases and four related deaths to date. A patient died Thursday while receiving treatment at a hospital in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province.

The hospital bed shortage has been a growing threat especially for the capital region as the country undergoes the biggest coronavirus wave so far.

But Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon together have only four more hospital beds available for severe COVID-19 patients.

Authorities are working to partner with local medical institutions to prepare more hospital beds and prevent additional fatalities.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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