Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech hospitals and healthcare system are edging closer to saturation as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket.
“Catastrophic” epidemiological situation, says Czech PM
The coronavirus pandemic appears to be spinning out of control in the Czech Republic, the worst-hit country in Europe at the moment, with Prime Minister Andrej Babis declaring this week that the numbers were “catastrophic”.
Yesterday, more than 9,500 new infections were recorded, an all-time high exceeding by far the previous record of 8,500 from last Friday.
Since March, around 140,000 COVID-19 cases were reported in the Czech Republic, roughly half of which (68,000) only in the first two weeks of October. There are at least 77,000 confirmed active cases, according to the Health Ministry, by far the highest number on record.
COVID infections rising among front-line healthcare workers
The skyrocketing rise in infection is putting the Czech healthcare system under unprecedented pressure, as hospitals near saturation and could soon run out of beds to treat COVID-19 patients, while the number of medical staff infected (nearly 5,000 at the moment) is said to be doubling every ten days.
“This is exponential growth”, Doctor Milan Kubek, chairman of the Czech Medical Chamber, told Radio Prague. “If the situation is not improved, we will have 8,000 health care workers infected in the next 10 days, 16,000 in 20 days and 32,000 in a month, which would lay the health system on its back”.
As part of the extraordinary measures introduced by the Czech government, some 17,000 medical university students have been called to help in hospitals or in testing stations.
Lack of hospital beds in the Czech Republic
Around 2,700 people are currently being treated in Czech hospitals with the disease. Deputy-Health Minister Aleksi Sedo claimed that this number is likely to rise to 4,000 by the end of the month.
After introducing a partial lockdown on Wednesday to try to keep the virus cases in check, Czech authorities are scrambling to strengthen hospital capacity and avoid a collapse of the healthcare system.
The Czech Army will build a field hospital on the grounds of the Letnany exhibition centre this week-end, with a capacity of 500 beds. Health Minister Roman Prymula also announced on Twitter that authorities were getting ready to prepare stadiums and other venues of the type “to ensure maximum possible treatment”.
Prime Minister Babis further declared the government would buy up to 4,000 hospital beds from the specialized local company Linet. He said the government was also in talks with spas and similar facilities, including in the neighbouring German state of Bavaria, to ask them to adapt their facilities to be able to take in people infected with COVID-19.
The government previously announced its aim was to increase the total capacity to 10,000 beds.