Lanzarote and La Graciosa will continue at Level 3 for a further week, the Canarian government decided yesterday. Although Covid cases are still on the rise, numbers in the hospital have remained relatively stable since last week, with 16 on the isolation ward and just one in intensive care. Six people have died with the virus on Lanzarote since the start of 2022.
While the Omicron variant appears to be milder than previous strains of the various, its high rate of transmissibility means that more than a third of all the cases ever recorded on the Canaries are currently classed as active, and hospitals are starting to feel the strain.
Jose Luís Aparacio, director of the Dr José Molina Orosa Hospital in Arrecife has said “Currently the situation is manageable, but the situation is starting to be worrying and we’re putting contingency plans in place.”
Aparacio said “On Lanzarote 80% of the population are vaccinated and a much smaller proportion are not, and half of the patients in hospital come from this much smaller group, while the other half come from the much more numerous group.”
But it’s not the Covid wards or intensive care units where the pressure is being felt the most sharply. Emergency services staff at health centres and hospitals have complained that they are being subjected to insults and aggression from people who are being forced to wait in order to report symptoms or get sick notes.
The pressure is also affecting treatment of those suffering from other illnesses and conditions apart from Covid, and last week the Las Palmas Medical College appealed for government to “let us treat the sick – all of them!”.
As a result, the Canarian Health service has placed several doctors in charge of a helpline – 900 112 061- which those who are under the age of 45 and have mild symptoms or none at all, may call and receive their sick note by SMS.
Announcing the measure, Canarian health minister Blas Trujillo said it could reduce the enquiries at health centres and hospitals by up to 67%. Trujillo reminded citizens that “You should only attend emergencies if you have serious symptoms, such as breathing difficulties, chest pain or a persistent fever of over 39 degrees.”
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