Coronavirus: Switzerland’s intensive care units ‘close to capacity or above’

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Coronavirus: Switzerland’s intensive care units ‘close to capacity or above’
A health worker is monitoring a patient at intensive care unit for patients infected with Covid-19 at the hospital of La-Chaux-de-Fonds on November 5, 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Despite almost three weeks of shutdown measures, the situation in Switzerland's intensive care units remains critical.


In a press conference on Tuesday, Swiss heath officials warned the public to “reduce your contacts even further” as the country’s free intensive care beds continued to dwindle. 

Despite almost three weeks passing since Switzerland put in place a more extensive set of coronavirus measures, hospitalisations and fatalities remain high. 

READ: Switzerland's new coronavirus measures explained

The situation in intensive care beds is particularly dire, with several cantons “close to capacity or above”. 

Not only does this increase the risks for potential coronavirus patients, people with other serious conditions also face higher risks. 


‘We have to take the pressure off the healthcare system’

Virginie Masserey, the Head of Infection Control Section at the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH, said the number of new infections was still too high. 

In several cantons, intensive care bed capacities were already exceeded, with hospitals struggling to add extra beds. 

"We cannot count on the hospitals to constantly increase their acute beds forever,” Mastery said

“We absolutely have to maintain the measures. It remains the only way to take the pressure off the healthcare system. 

While infection numbers have slowed somewhat, they remain high. 

READ: What are the coronavirus measures in every Swiss canton? 

“We assume that the slowdown is due to the measures. But what is decisive is the behaviour of the population,” said Masserey. 

“Reduce your contacts even further.”

Where is the situation critical?

Andreas Stettbacher from the Federal Council Delegate for the Coordinated Medical Service (KSD) said there were 240 free intensive care beds across the country - just 21 percent of the total allocation. 

However, in individual cantons, “intensive care units are close to the capacity limit or above”. 

The situation is particularly dire in Aargau, Fribourg and Solothurn, where capacity has already exceeded 90 percent - while in Glarus ICU patients have already exceeded the canton’s capacity. 

The following chart shows how full each canton’s intensive care units are on a percentage basis. Data for Obwalden and Appenzell Innerrhoden has not been provided.  




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