Central Europe sounds alarm facing a shortages of medics as virus surges

KYJOV, Czech Republic (AP) — Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there. A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

“This is actually terrifying,” Dr. Piotr Suwalski, the head of the cardiac surgery ward at a Polish hospital said on a day when daily COVID-19 cases rose 20% nationwide. “I think if we continue to gain 20% a day, no system can withstand it.”

Even before the pandemic, many countries in the region faced a tragic shortage of medical personnel due to years of underfunding in their public health sectors and an exodus of doctors and nurses to better paying jobs in Western Europe after the nations joined the European Union in 2004. Now, with the virus ripping through their hospitals, many health workers have been sickened, compounding the shortfall.

Over 13,200 medical personnel across the Czech Republic have been infected, including 6,000 nurses and 2,600 doctors, according to the doctors’ union.

It’s not just clinicians these countries need. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are building field hospitals as beds fill up on wards, and authorities say there are only 12 ventilators left in all hospitals taking COVID-19 patients in the region around Warsaw, the Polish capital.

This may sound familiar, but not for these countries. Many in the region imposed tough restrictions in the spring — including sealing borders and closing schools, stores and restaurants — and saw very low infection rates even as the virus killed tens of thousands in Western Europe.

READ MORE: France, Germany impose new lockdowns to curb virus spread

But now many central European countries are seeing an onslaught similar to the one their western neighbors experienced — and the same dire warnings.

As he announced new restrictions last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put a date on when his country’s health system would collapse, if the new regulations were not imposed to slow the virus’s spread: between Nov. 7 and 11.

With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the Czech Republic’s hospitals are desperately looking for volunteers. The government is deploying thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing sites.

In the capital of Prague, Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who has a degree in medicine, volunteered to help do initial exams of possible coronavirus patients at a university hospital. Soon, 28 medical personnel from the Nebraska and Texas national guards are expected to arrive to help treat patients at Prague’s military hospital and a new field hospital at the city’s exhibition ground.

Croatia has asked former doctors to come out of retirement to help in hospitals, while Slovenia has put retired physicians and current medical students on standby in case its

Read more

Short of medics as virus surges, central Europe sounds alarm

KYJOV, Czech Republic (AP) — Soldiers in Poland are giving coronavirus tests. American National Guard troops with medical training are headed to the Czech Republic to work alongside doctors there. A Czech university student is running blood samples to labs, and the mayor of the capital is taking shifts at a hospital.

With cases surging in many central European countries, firefighters, students and retired doctors are being asked to help shore up buckling health care systems.

“This is actually terrifying,” Dr. Piotr Suwalski, the head of the cardiac surgery ward at a Polish hospital said on a day when daily COVID-19 cases rose 20% nationwide. “I think if we continue to gain 20% a day, no system can withstand it.”


Even before the pandemic, many countries in the region faced a tragic shortage of medical personnel due to years of underfunding in their public health sectors and an exodus of doctors and nurses to better paying jobs in Western Europe after the nations joined the European Union in 2004. Now, with the virus ripping through their hospitals, many health workers have been sickened, compounding the shortfall.

Over 13,200 medical personnel across the Czech Republic have been infected, including 6,000 nurses and 2,600 doctors, according to the doctors’ union.

It’s not just clinicians these countries need. Both Poland and the Czech Republic are building field hospitals as beds fill up on wards, and authorities say there are only 12 ventilators left in all hospitals taking COVID-19 patients in the region around Warsaw, the Polish capital.

This may sound familiar, but not for these countries. Many in the region imposed tough restrictions in the spring — including sealing borders and closing schools, stores and restaurants — and saw very low infection rates even as the virus killed tens of thousands in Western Europe.

But now many central European countries are seeing an onslaught similar to the one their western neighbors experienced — and the same dire warnings.

As he announced new restrictions last week, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put a date on when his country’s health system would collapse, if the new regulations were not imposed to slow the virus’s spread: between Nov. 7 and 11.

With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the Czech Republic’s hospitals are desperately looking for volunteers. The government is deploying thousands of medical students to hospitals and other students to testing sites.

In the capital of Prague, Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who has a degree in medicine, volunteered to help do initial exams of possible coronavirus patients at a university hospital. Soon, 28 medical personnel from the Nebraska and Texas national guards are expected to arrive to help treat patients at Prague’s military hospital and a new field hospital at the city’s exhibition ground.

Croatia has asked former doctors to come out of retirement to help in hospitals, while Slovenia has put retired physicians and current medical students on standby in case its situation deteriorates.

Poland, meanwhile, is mobilizing soldiers to conduct COVID-19 testing,

Read more

Coronavirus restrictions reinstated in Wisconsin as New Mexico sounds the alarm

(Reuters) – As Wisconsin battled one of the worst coronavirus surges in the United States, a judge on Monday reinstated an order from Governor Tony Evers’ administration limiting indoor public gatherings.

Registered nurse (RN) Tammy Fellenz, wearing an NFL Green Bay Packers headband, takes a patient’s nasal swab at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-thru testing site at Froedtert North Hills Health Center in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, U.S., October 18, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

The order, issued earlier this month to stem rising new COVID-19 infections in the state, put a 25% capacity limit on the number of people who may gather indoors, including at bars and restaurants, until Nov. 6.

“This critically important ruling will help us prevent the spread of this virus by restoring limits on public gatherings,” Evers said in a statement.

Wisconsin, one of several battleground states in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, is scrambling to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that officials fear could overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

Evers’ emergency directive was challenged in court shortly after it was issued on Oct 6., and a judge initially blocked it on Oct. 14.

Wisconsin is one of five states where more than 20% of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive. Local health officials last week warned about “very intense community spread in all age groups” as they announced a string of grim records.

However, a field hospital erected at fairgrounds outside Milwaukee for COVID-19 patients was empty as of Sunday, according to Wisconsin health authorities.

FALL SURGE

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States last week rose 13% to more than 393,000, approaching levels last seen during a summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis.

(Graphic: Where U.S. coronavirus cases are rising and falling – here)

Thirty-four of 50 states have seen cases increase for at least two weeks in a row, up from 29 the prior week. They include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina — all battleground states for the Nov. 3 election.

Deaths fell 2% to about 4,900 people for the week ended Oct. 18, according to the analysis of state and county reports. Since the outbreak started, nearly 220,000 people in the country have died and over 8.1 million have become infected with the novel coronavirus.

In New Mexico, the governor warned on Monday that the state’s healthcare resources might not be sufficient if coronavirus cases continue to rise at the current pace.

“If COVID-19 continues to exponentially spread like last week, New Mexico will not have the health care and hospital capacity for every New Mexican who needs care,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, wrote in a tweet.

(Graphic: Global COVID-19 tracker – here)

Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Rich McKay in Atlanta; additional reporting and writing by Maria Caspani in New York, Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Source Article

Read more