Public hospital beds are in extreme short supply during the current peak period of seasonal influenza – so much so that patients have to wait for up to three days at the accident and emergency unit before they are able to move up to the medical ward, Apple Daily reports.
Even hospital beds with castor wheels are short in supply, and many patients have to wait in wheelchairs.
Secretary for Health Ko Wing-man, who visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Wednesday, said the government is considering several measures to respond to the situation, such as transferring less serious cases to rehabilitation centers and offering special payments to medical staff who work extra shifts, RTHK reports.
Some of the medical staff at Queen Elizabeth took to social media to share their hardships working at the A&E unit, where more than 50 patients at one time are waiting to be admitted as the hospital bed occupancy rate has exceeded 100 percent, according to Apple Daily.
The Hospital Authority said at least 1,025 patients were admitted to medical wards via the A&E units on Monday, with the overall hospital bed occupancy rate hitting 118 percent.
All medical wards at local public hospitals are more than 100 percent occupied. The occupancy rate at Pok Oi Hospital was the worst at 131 percent, followed by Prince of Wales Hospital at 126 percent, Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 124 percent, Yan Chai Hospital and United Christian Hospital.
Patients visiting the A&E department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital would be able to see a notice posted at the registration counter saying the average waiting time for a medical ward bed is more than 24 hours.
Prof. Nelson LS Lee from the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said the medical ward of Prince of Wales Hospital has received around 200 patients with seasonal flu symptoms since the end of January.
The Centre for Health Protection announced on Tuesday there were outbreaks of influenza-like illnesses at four schools involving a total of 81 students and four staffers.
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