Zurich has no more ICU beds as Switzerland's fourth COVID wave intensifies
Switzerland recorded almost 10.500 new COVID cases on Wednesday, a new national record. In the largest canton in Switzerland, Canton Zurich has reported that there are no more beds available in intensive care units.
Shortage of ICU beds in Canton Zurich
Switzerland recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases ever on Wednesday, with 10.466 cases in the country as a whole, along with 22 deaths and 140 hospital admissions. In Zurich, ICU capacity was at 98 percent - double what it was the month before.
The Department of Health for Canton Zurich announced on Wednesday that all ICU beds are currently fully occupied. Speaking to Radio SRF, Deputy Director of the Institute for Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital Zurich, Peter Steiger, said that medical transfers to other cantons could not take place due to a shortage of staff. “It’s really bad” was the message from Steiger, who said staff shortages had meant some ICU beds had to be closed.
Acute staff shortages at Swiss hospitals
Across the country, doctors have warned of increased pressure on the healthcare system. It is estimated that hospitals in Basel Land and St. Gallen are 25 percent understaffed, with Stephan Jakob from the Inselspital in Bern warning they will have to start “triaging” due to a lack of capacity, a practice where doctors are forced to prioritise patients who are most likely to recover.
A statement from University Hospital Basel says “The intensive care unit is also almost fully occupied, almost a third with COVID patients.” In Bern, Head Doctor at the Inselspital, Martin Müller, confirmed that the emergency services will be moving patients to hospitals throughout the canton to avoid local overloading.
Head of the Office for Health in Zug, Rudolf Hauri, said that the situation was “not yet dramatic, but that shouldn't hide the fact that there are strong regional increases in hospital occupancy." He said what is happening in certain cantons is showing things are going in the wrong direction.