As cases rise, experts warn of an increase in hospitalizations due to Covid

In recent days, there has also been an increase in both positivity (the rate of positive results) and demand for diagnostic tests for Sars-CoV-2 infection.

According to experts, Covid has again advanced in some parts of the country, but still at a low level compared to other times of the epidemic. In the state of São Paulo, for example, there has been an increase in the number of patients admitted to ICU beds and wards.

In recent days, there has also been progress in both positivity (the rate of positive results) and demand for diagnostic tests for Sars-CoV-2 infection.

In terms of official data, however, there is likely to be underreporting, as many people self-test at home, whose notification is not officially recorded, or otherwise do not seek diagnostic tests if they are asymptomatic (without symptoms of disease); .

“We have reports of many people with positive diagnoses, but the official data is not clear,” said epidemiologist Raquel Stuckey, a professor at Unicamp. “We will only be able to know the true reflection of Carnival in two weeks, so it is important that people with flu symptoms are isolated and wear a mask.”

The state of São Paulo announced this Thursday (2) the removal of the mandatory mask in state public transport. The move came a day after Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) revoked a measure forcing passengers and crew to use protective equipment on planes and airports.

According to the agency, there was a decrease in new cases of staff members in February, which would justify the cancellation of the measure.

However, since February 1, the increase in cases has already been consolidating, says Isaac Schrarstjaupt of the Covid Analysis Network.


For him, the Carnival does not mean an increase in cases as before, when there were no vaccines, but it is time to think about the risks.

“Actually, the situation is better today, mainly because of vaccinations, which still help prevent hospitalizations and deaths, but we’ve been at a death rate of about 80 to 120 for more or less seven months. [média móvel] in the day. It is still a worrying disease for me,” he says.

It is likely that Carnival plays an important role in the transmission of the virus and the increase of new infections or reinfections, but the increase in cases and hospitalizations has already been observed for at least four weeks in some states such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro. , some northeastern states and Amazonas.

According to the latest InfoGripe newsletter, up to February 25, there is an increasing trend in cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in São Paulo and the Amazonas, mostly in adults, indicating that the flu is circulating (in the case of the Amazonas). ) and Covid (in the case of São Paulo) associated with an increase in respiratory syndrome.


There is also an increase in children and adolescents in São Paulo that may be linked to other respiratory viruses. In Rio de Janeiro and Ceará, however, the increase can also be seen among the elderly.

“We have three sets of data in Brazil today that can help us understand how the epidemic is progressing: lab positivity, hospitalizations due to SARS, and “anecdotal” cases, which are reports of people with Covid. , because many do the quick test at home and there is no official notification,” says Leonardo Bastos, one of the coordinators of Fiocruz’s InfoGripe newsletter.


Meanwhile, hospitalizations due to Covid in the ICU and wards of the State of São Paulo and Greater São Paulo have risen again, according to the government.

This Wednesday (1st), 550 patients were admitted to ICU beds for Covid in the state, which is a 10% increase from 16 in the last day and a 30% increase from February 1st.


Hospitalizations in tree beds, which stood at 1,284 this Wednesday (1st), also showed increases of 26% and 75% respectively over the same dates.

The growth is repeated only when looking at data from Greater São Paulo. This Wednesday (1st), 390 people were hospitalized in hospital beds, which is 13% more compared to 16 the previous day and 54% more compared to February 1st.

There were 868 patients on ward beds this Wednesday (1st), up 42% on the previous day on the 16th and up 116% on 1st February.


Schrästjaupt reminds that the epidemiological situation is now, in fact, more favorable than a year ago, when the omicron option was first introduced in Brazil, but we are still far from saying that “the epidemic is over”.


An analogy that a researcher usually makes is that in the past we had a tsunami of new omicron infections, and now the waves can be seen more as successive “waves”. “We see a high sea level, but without those huge waves, that is, it is possible to lower the level,” he says.

In addition, another data to be evaluated is the positivity of the tests. A survey by the Dasa laboratory network showed that the rate of positive Covid-19 results in Sao Paulo increased by 28.11% in the last 15 days, from 23.69% between February 6 and 13 to 30:00 35% until last February 26.

In Rio de Janeiro, another important site of the test network, the rate increased from 18.52% on February 12 to 29.47% by the last 26th, an increase of 59%.

The network, which is also sequencing some of the positive samples collected, has detected the XBB.1.5 variant in 95% of samples in recent weeks.

Abramed, which collects data from the country’s medical and laboratory associations, saw a nearly 40% increase in positivity over the past 14 days, from 15.8% in the past 10 to 22.1% in the week ending February 24.

Ana Bottallo, Sao Paulo, SP

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