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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.