Germany coronavirus: Nation risks running out of intensive care beds in Covid crisis


Coronavirus an infection numbers hit an all-time document Friday, with practically 24,000 new every day circumstances recorded — and so did the quantity of sufferers in the nation’s intensive care models. Official data from the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) present that the quantity of Covid-19 sufferers in German intensive care models (ICU) has climbed from 267 on September 21 to three,615 as of November 20 — a greater than 13-fold improve in the house of simply two months.
Europe’s largest economic system has gotten by means of the pandemic pretty nicely for now in comparison with its neighboring international locations. This in in half as a result of its high intensive care capacity with 33.9 beds per 100,000 inhabitants; in distinction, Italy has simply 8.6. But with Covid circumstances throughout the area skyrocketing, even Germany’s healthcare system is beneath pressure and hospitals in some areas are more and more coming near their limits.

Germany’s management on Friday warned the system might collapse in weeks if the present trajectory continues. “The number of severe cases in intensive patients is still rising. The number of deaths is something that is not really being talked about and it remains very high,” stated Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We have not yet managed to bring the numbers back to a low level. We have basically only managed to get past the first step so far, that is, to stop the strong, steep, exponential increase of infections and we are now stable, but our numbers are still very, very high.”

‘Patients deteriorate in a short time’

Michael Oppert, head of intensive care on the Ernst von Bergmann hospital in Potsdam, simply outdoors Berlin, is equally involved in regards to the dramatic rise in current weeks — and expects issues to worsen.

“We are not at the tip of the wave now, at least as far as I see,” he advised a visiting CNN crew this week. “And we do have a capacity for a few more patients, but if this carries on at the speed that we are experiencing right now I would imagine that even our hospital, with over 1,000 beds, will come to a point where we have to send patients home or to other hospitals to get treated.”

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Bettina Schade, chief nurse on the Covid ward in the identical hospital, described how the ward has modified over the previous couple of weeks. “The numbers of patients have been increasing. We are getting a lot more patients with varying degrees of illness. Both for the normal Covid ward, but many also come to the emergency unit and very quickly have to be put into ICU,” she stated. “We are currently experiencing having to put a lot of patients from the normal Covid ward into ICU very quickly because patients deteriorate very quickly.”

This applies even to many youthful sufferers with extreme signs, stated Tillman Schumacher, a senior infectious illness doctor. “We have patients of 30 or 40 years here who are on a ventilator and I am not sure if they’ll survive.”

Only two of the 16 ICU beds have been vacant and the hospital employees was already canceling non-urgent operations to release capability — in addition to planning to transform extra of its basic intensive care amenities into Covid models.

Dr. Uwe Janssens, head of the DIVI, defined what measures can be taken if the present spike continues. “The regular program of hospitals has to be shut down, a partial closing down of the regular operations and admissions of patients which you can delay for several weeks without any strain, they can be delayed. There are people who don’t need an emergency surgery or an emergency catheter or something like that. They can be delayed. And doing this you get the capacity and get the nurses and the physicians to help the ICU physicians and ICU nurses on their wards.”

After taking into account non-Covid patients, 22,066 intensive care beds in the country were occupied as of November 20, while 6,107 remained vacant. Germany has a reserve of about 12,000 ICU beds, including field hospital beds at Berlin’s convention center.

Despite the large capacity, health minister Jens Spahn earlier this month warned that ICUs could be overwhelmed if daily infection rates continued to rise at the current level. “We are actually more and more seeing a rising burden and the menace of being overwhelmed in intensive care, in hospitals and at GPs,” he said in an interview with Germany’s state broadcaster ARD.

Germany offers help to other European countries

And that could be bad news for all of Europe. Until now, Germany has been taking in Covid patients from neighboring countries whose health care systems are overwhelmed.

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The German Foreign Office confirmed to CNN that during the first wave of the pandemic, between March 21 and April 12, 232 patients were transferred to Germany for treatment — 44 of them from Italy, 58 from the Netherlands and 130 from France. In the fall too, the federal states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Saarland offered spaces to 36 patients — three of them from the Netherlands, 25 from Belgium and eight from France, a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

”These patients have a need for intensive medical care,” said Anja Wengenroth, a spokeswoman at University Hospital Muenster in Muenster, North Rhine-Westphalia. Her hospital established a system in the spring whereby Benelux countries — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — could put in a request for ICU beds, a scheme which is ongoing. The North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs confirmed to CNN that currently ”46 hospitals have currently agreed to accept foreign Covid-19 patients. There are currently 76 beds on offer.”

Anne Funk, head of the division of cross-border cooperation in Germany’s smallest federal state of Saarland, which borders France, told CNN that during the first wave of the pandemic, its hospitals took in 32 French patients. At the end of October, Saarland offered France eight beds; three patients have been transferred to date.

“We wish to assist wherever we will,” Funk said. “We don’t wish to differentiate between nationalities. At the second we nonetheless have capacities. We are coordinating with medical and native authorities in France on a person wants foundation. We are right here to assist.”

For now they’ll proceed to try this, however with Germany’s ICUs filling up shortly, it isn’t clear for the way for much longer.

Nurses tend to patients in the coronavirus intensive care unit of the University Hospital Dresden, November 13, 2020.

Anti-pandemic protests

Germany has lately seen a string of demonstrations towards the nation’s anti-pandemic measures, with many protesters denying the severity of the virus.

The nation is in a nationwide partial lockdown which requires restaurant and bars to stay closed, folks to keep away from journey, hold their contacts to an absolute minimal and restrict public conferences to members of two completely different households. Schools and retailers have remained open. German federal and state leaders will meet subsequent week to determine on introducing additional measures.

Demonstrators put up their hands in front of police officers during a protest against the government's coronavirus restrictions in Berlin, November 18, 2020.

On Wednesday, 1000’s of folks gathered close to the parliament in Berlin whereas lawmakers inside debated plans for better authorized powers to implement restrictions. Police used water cannon and tear gasoline to disperse protesters, many of whom weren’t carrying face masks.

This is taken into account a slap in the face by frontline medical employees working laborious to maintain folks alive, like Schade. “I also hear some people I know say things like: it’s like a flu or can be compared to a regular flu,” the chief nurse stated. “We just cannot understand people saying that! Of course we all have the fear that maybe at some point we won’t make it anymore and could have a situation like they had in Italy where patients are outside in cars and get treated with oxygen because there’s no more capacity.”

Germany remains to be distant from such situations however, whereas there are nonetheless 1000’s of ICU beds out there in the nation, Oppert had a message of warning in regards to the second wave of the pandemic and its dynamic.

“It is different, it is harder,” he stated. “We do tend to see more patients now. Not only here in the Berlin/Potsdam region, in which we have a heavy burden of intensive care patients, but nationwide the numbers are climbing and they’re still climbing, they are not coming down at the moment.”

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