It’s more than a flight, it’s a sign of danger: For the first time in the second wave of the corona pandemic, patients are being transferred from the Netherlands to German clinics. On Friday morning, a helicopter transported a patient from Almere, 30 kilometers east of Amsterdam, to a hospital in Münster, and a second should follow later in the day. This shows: The hospitals in the Netherlands are slowly filling up with Covid patients – in some cases the limit has even been reached. The same applies to some other neighboring German countries. As at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in spring, Germany, where the situation is still fairly stable, is being asked for support. An overview:
Almost every second bed in intensive care units in the Netherlands is occupied by a patient suffering from Covid-19. The hospitals in the northwest region, to which Almere belongs, could hardly cope with the influx of new patients, said the coordination center for the distribution of patients in Rotterdam. “The water is up to their necks.”
The number of infections in the Netherlands is among the highest in Europe. On Thursday, almost 9,300 new infections were reported within 24 hours, with around 18 million residents. On Thursday, 463 corona patients were in intensive care units. In the spring, patients had already been transferred to German clinics. North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony have therefore offered to take on patients again. The Netherlands has 1150 beds in intensive care units. North Rhine-Westphalia alone has around five times as many with the same number of inhabitants. According to the Münster University Hospital, which coordinates the aid on the German side, it provides 85 beds for patients from the Netherlands. 87 NRW clinics have offered free capacities.
It was a cry for help, or rather: a scream. On Friday morning, the well-known Brussels epidemiologist Marius Gilbert wrote this tweet: “You who have 100, 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 followers, here, on Facebook or Instagram! You, who meet so many people every day, help each other, help us! It’s one minute to twelve, your influence can save lives, our hospitals are on the brink of the abyss. ” The following is a list of the most important rules of conduct that should now be observed.
The situation in Belgium, which was hit hard by the first wave, is dramatic. After the Czech Republic, the country reports the second highest values for new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. According to official data, an average of 10,000 people are infected every day, for a population of 11.5 million. The virologist Steven Van Gucht, spokesman for the Belgian Corona crisis team, expects the number of new infections “towards 20,000” to increase in the coming days. Applied to Germany, this would mean around 140,000 cases a day.
In mid-November, the intensive care units in nine out of ten Belgian provinces would reach their capacity limits if the number of cases remained at the high level, the health authorities warn. The number of available beds in the intensive care units is to be increased to 2,300. Operations that are not absolutely necessary are to be postponed in the next four weeks. From this Friday on, new, stricter measures apply. University lecture halls may only be 20 percent full, and theme parks have to close. A maximum of 200 visitors are allowed in theaters and cinemas. In amateur sport, competitions with more than 18 athletes are prohibited, and spectators are again taboo at sporting events. However, experts doubt that this will be enough to avoid overcrowding in intensive care units.
The hospitals in the Czech Republic are also full. Not only the 4,000 or so intensive care beds, but also breathing equipment are running out. Now new devices are to be procured quickly, the EU promised to deliver 30 pieces from its stand. Only patients who need urgent intensive care may be admitted to the hospitals. New beds can hardly be added because there are too many infected doctors and nurses and there are already great shortages of staff in the hospitals. The government asked Bavaria for help days ago, which Prime Minister Markus Söder has promised. If necessary, intensive care beds will be made available.
The country, with almost eleven million inhabitants, is currently at the top of the list of new infections in Europe, and a lockdown has been in effect for a few days, as in spring, albeit with many exceptions. The Ministry of Health reported 14,151 confirmed cases within 24 hours on Friday, slightly fewer than the previous day, when there was a new record of 14,968 new infections.
In Switzerland, the federal government and cantons have asked the hospitals, as they did in spring, to make space for more Covid patients. Non-urgent medical interventions would now have to be scaled back quickly in order to have enough staff and space available for Covid patients, the health directors of the cantons decided on Thursday. The country’s Covid task force warns that without further measures, the hospitals would reach their capacity limits in mid-November, i.e. in three weeks. In some cantons the time has come, said Lukas Engelberger, President of the Conference of Health Directors. The situation is very serious. “We have to take action.”
In the spring, the Federal Republic of Germany admitted 232 corona patients from Italy, France and the Netherlands for intensive treatment. At the moment the situation in Germany is still somewhat relaxed. On Friday morning, according to the intensive care register of the “German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine”, 7212 beds were occupied, which are suitable for Covid-19 patients. The number of free beds was 6,175.
1121 Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care. On Thursday it was 1030. The increase in patients has doubled within twelve days. The increase is accelerating: on Tuesday the doubling time was 15 days, on Wednesday 14, on Thursday 13 days. That is why experts are now sounding the alarm in Germany too, not least because there is a lack of sufficient staff.