COVID-19: Czech Republic asks Poland, Germany, Switzerland to admit patients

The Czech Republic has asked Germany, Switzerland and Poland to admit dozens of COVID-19 patients as the situation in their own hospitals has reached a critical point, the Health Ministry in Prague announced on Friday.

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The country with around 10.7 million inhabitants has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic globally, especially in recent weeks. Many regional hospitals, overwhelmed by the inflow of COVID-19 cases have had to transfer patients elsewhere but these options have narrowed as capacities have thinned across the country.

“The large number of newly infected patients has intensified pressure on the healthcare system, and the number of patients requiring hospitalisation is growing," the ministry said.

As of Friday morning, there were 8,153 COVID-19 patients hospitalised, including 1,735 requiring intensive care, the Czech Health Ministry reported.

“In some regions, the hospitals have exhausted their capacity and they are no longer able to provide appropriate care or to accept new patients without help from others,” the Health Minister Jan Blatný said.

He added that the government has given the go-ahead to seek dozens of hospital beds abroad, following offers from three countries. Actual patient transfers are to be organised upon requests from hospitals, the minister said. Across the country, just 13 percent of the overall intensive care capacity was free, including beds intended for COVID-19 and all other patients, despite hospitals having halted all non-urgent procedures.

In one hospital that has declared an emergency, the main problem was lack of staff. “The numbers have started to grow over the capacity, mainly in terms of nurses," said Jan Dudra, deputy director at the hospital. "Under normal circumstances, we have two nurses per 10 patients, today the situation is such that we have 15 patients and one nurse to take care of them,” he added.

The Czech Republic has reported 21,325 SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus deaths and 1.3 mln infections.

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