‘No more ICU beds’ in Zurich as Switzerland hits all-time Covid case record

Switzerland recorded almost 10,500 new Covid cases on Wednesday, while there are no more ICU beds left in Zurich, the country's largest canton.

Zurich's Triemlispital (Treimli Hospital)
Zurich's Tremli Hospital seen from the air. Photo by Patrick Federi on Unsplash

Due to a doubling of Covid patients in less than a month along with staff shortages, there are no further ICU beds available in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

On Wednesday, Switzerland recorded 10,466 Covid cases – the highest ever recorded – along with 22 deaths and 140 hospital admissions. 

READ MORE: First Omicron cases detected in Switzerland

In Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, ICU capacity reached 98 percent capacity on Wednesday afternoon, double that of just one month ago. 

The Zurich Health Department confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that ICU beds are currently completely booked out in the canton. 

There are currently 177 people being treated for Covid in hospitals in Zurich, 43 of which are in intensive care. Of those, 24 are on a ventilator. 

The number of Covid patients has doubled over the past month. 

The dearth in ICU capacity is not only due to a surge in Covid patients, but also a shortage in staff in the ICUs – and in hospitals themselves. 

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Peter Steiger from the Zurich University Hospital told Radio SRF that transfers to other hospitals was not even possible due to staff shortages. 

“It is really bad” Steiger said. 

“Because of staff shortages, several intensive care beds had to be locked.”

Staff numbers in hospitals in Basel Country and St Gallen are around 25 percent lower than where they should be, while Basel City’s Basel University Hospital has called for unskilled workers to help out. 

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The reasons for the staff shortages are many and varied, Blick reports. 

They include people who have contracted the virus despite being vaccinated, people whose children are in isolation due to quarantine requirements, people who were dismissed from their positions and those who are simply exhausted. 

Hospitals in the Swiss capital of Bern have issued a “code red”, warning that emergency wards will be full in the coming days. 

Bern’s Salem Hospital said it was not far away from closing their doors to people needing emergency medical treatment. 

READ MORE: Switzerland flags new measures, expansion of Covid certificate

“Emergencies run the risk of no longer being able to be admitted. Hirslanden Bern is trying to exhaust the personnel possibilities. This means that, where possible, we bring back our staff from time off.”

Other cantons including Solothurn and Schwyz have also warned of exhausted capacities, Blick reports

Member comments

  1. Now CH have a 70% vaccinated in contrast to 0% one year ago. Maybe it is time to understand that substituting tests by vaccines is not the way.

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‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?