Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
7 Dec 2021
12:31 pm

Steve Biko’s Omicron patients not oxygen dependent

Citizen Reporter

Data from Steve Biko hospital and the Tshwane Health district show that majority of Omicron patients are not oxygen dependant and younger.

Picture: iStock

The majority of the patients admitted to Steve Biko hospital’s Covid-19 wards are not oxygen-dependent.

That’s according to the South African Medical Research Council, AIDS and TB Research Director Dr Fareed Abdullah.

An analysis of 166 patients admitted to Steve Biko and the Tshwane District Hospital Complex between 14 -29 November 2021 revealed that 80% of admissions were below the age of 50 years.

At least 19% of patients were children aged between 0-9 years, and the highest number of admissions was in the age group 30-39 years, making up 28 % of the total.

This patient information only represents the first two weeks of the Omicron wave in Tshwane.

“A snapshot of 42 patients in the ward on 2 December 2021 reveals that 29 (70%) are not oxygen dependent,” said Abdullah.

“These patients are saturating well on room air and do not present with any respiratory symptoms. These are the patients that we would call ‘incidental Covid admissions’, having had another medical or surgical reason for admission,” he said.

At least 13 patients are dependent on supplemental oxygen of which nine (21%) have a diagnosis of Covid-19 pneumonia based on a combination of symptoms.

“All are being prescribed steroids as the mainstay of therapy. The remaining four patients are on oxygen for other medical reasons (2 previously on home oxygen, 1 in heart failure and 1 with a confirmed diagnosis of Pneumocystis Pneumonia),” explained Abdullah.

This is a picture that has not been seen in previous waves. At the beginning of the three previous waves, there have always been fewer patients on room air.

These patients have usually been in the recovery phase waiting for the resolution of a co-morbidity before discharge.

The Covid ward was characterised by most patients on some form of oxygen supplementation with the constant sound of high flow nasal oxygen machines or beeping ventilator alarms.

Of 38 adults admitted on 2 December 2021, six were vaccinated, 24 were unvaccinated, and eight patients’ vaccination status was unknown.

Of the nine patients with Covid pneumonia, eight are unvaccinated, of which one is a child.

There was only one patient on oxygen who was fully vaccinated, but the reason for the oxygen was Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

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