GENEVA (Reuters) – Swiss hospitals scramble to deal with spike in new COVID-19 patients, leading retired staff to replace sick frontline workers and shut down others services as officials warn they could hit breaking point in about 10 days
The number of cases in Switzerland reached record levels this month, with infection rates far higher than those in neighboring countries Germany and Italy
The government is expected to announce new measures on Wednesday, but has been criticized by doctors and scientists for being too reluctant to impose tough rules nationwide
At the University Hospital of Geneva (HUG), in one of the most affected cantons, cases have multiplied by more than six in three weeks to reach 350 patients
« Everyone expected a second wave, but no one I know of expected it to be so wild and harsh, » Director Bertrand Levrat told Reuters
« Today this wave will likely be bigger, possibly much bigger than the first wave, » he said, describing a tense situation with exhausted doctors and more than 400 COVID infections among the personal
To cope, his facility is eliminating elective surgeries, transferring patients to private clinics, and calling in retired workers even though they would be in the age group most vulnerable to the virus
Nationwide, around a third of intensive care units remain available but will be filled within the next ten days if the current infection rate persists, government delegate for coordinated medical services Andreas Stettbacher said on Tuesday.
Similar warnings were issued earlier this year during the first outbreak, but hospitals, backed by army reservists, were largely resistant and many had standby capacity.
Marie Assouline Reinmann, doctor at HUG, fears that complacency and skepticism about the restrictions could lead to an increase in the number of infections
« I am afraid that people are taking the situation less seriously and that it is getting worse and worse here at the hospital, » she said
« I wish people would realize that this second wave is here and is already overwhelming us »
Confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein have surpassed 127,000, with the death toll exceeding 1,900
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