Emergency room doctor alarmed by influx of young COVID-19 patients to hospital

An emergency room doctor at a B.C. hospital says he’s worried by the influx of young COVID-19 patients to hospitals.

Dr. Michael Curry, who works at Delta Hospital, says that during the first year of the pandemic he mostly treated people over the age of 80 for COVID-19 complications. But that’s changed.

“What I’m seeing now are younger people,” Curry said.

“The people being admitted the last few months, I can’t think of anybody over the age of 45. We are actually admitting people in their 30s,” he said.

“We had one patient in their 20s who was admitted to hospital because they had COVID that attacked their lungs to the extent that they needed assistance with their breathing.”

Curry says while his hospital can handle the current caseload, it won’t take much to overwhelm the system.

“Exponential growth can overtake you really quickly,” he said. “The intensive care units are really feeling the crunch, and that’s going to start backing up into our emergency departments and other parts of the hospital.”

Curry believes that with the province’s current COVID-19 restrictions aren’t tough enough considering the rapid spread of more contagious virus variants, such as those associated with U.K. and Brazil.

Between April 1 and 4, the province recorded 4,040 new cases of COVID-19, 916 of which were variant cases. The province now has a new variant cases were confirmed in B.C., bringing the provincial total of variant cases to 3,559.

“We know what we are doing right now has put us in this current situation,” Curry said. “So I think at least for people who are not vaccinated, we need to consider stricter regimens to control this virus.”

But Health Minister Adrian Dix disagrees saying, “These are strong restrictions now. Remember, all of these numbers really reflect events that occurred prior to the new restrictions coming into place.”

As for the increase in COVID cases among people under 40, Dix says “It’s still obviously our elders who are most at risk, it’s just relative to before we are seeing more risk among young people.”

Dix acknowledges some hospital ICU’s are under pressure, but insists there is plenty of capacity to handle a surge.

“There is no question of our hospitals being able to manage, they absolutely are going to be able to manage,” Dix said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not serious.”

As he treats COVID patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s at Delta Hospital, Curry is still worried.

“If we continue on the current trajectory, our numbers are going to go way up,” he said.

“What we are doing right now does not seem to be working, and it’s going to get worse.”