World

Coronavirus: Health systems across Europe straining under pressure of pandemic

Europe has reached a fork in the road when it comes to COVID-19; some countries that have implemented strict measures are seeing infection rates start to fall, while others are reporting record daily totals.

But across the continent health systems are straining under the pressure of the pandemic.

Italy has been hit hard by the second wave — the country passed one million total cases of coronavirus on Wednesday.

Hospitals are crowded with few beds available and the car parks of the legendary Formula One race track of Monza were recently converted into a health facility.

Rodolfo Punzi, Head of the Infectious Disease Department at Cotugno hospital in Naples said: “The current situation at the Cotugno hospital is that we almost have no more beds available.

“We are working intensively with sacrifice and taking great responsibility, particularly the workers and the nurses.”

France: lockdown measure won’t be eased yet

Two weeks into the country’s second national lockdown, cases in France are slowly declining, but the situation in the country is still critical, the government has said.

“If we consider a seven-day average, we observed a 16 per cent decrease. This change must be interpreted in a manner that’s positive but cautious,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

“These last few days, we have tallied one hospitalisation every 30 seconds and an ICU admission every three minutes.

“Forty per cent of people admitted to intensive care are less than 65 years old. This is obviously significant, and the number of hospitalisations has surpassed the April peak.”

He announced lockdown measures would to remain in place for at least two more weeks.

Switzerland: army drafted in to help in hospitals

Switzerland had to call in its army to enhance the workforce in its hospitals — up to 2,500 military personnel will help doctors and nurses to control a spike in the virus that has seen 7,000 cases and 93 dead in the last 24 hours.

But in other countries, the story is slightly more reassuring.

Germany is seeing a drop in its reinfection rate. For every 100 infected people, the virus will be passed on to just 89 — a sign that transmission could be slowing.

The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s centre for disease control, said the country’s curve is “flattening”.

The institute’s head, Lothar Wieler, said he is “”cautiously optimistic” because “”the curve is rising somewhat less steeply.” But he said “we don’t yet know whether this is a stable development”, adding that it’s too early to assess what effect the new restrictions are having.

Ireland is on track to end its lockdown on December 1; the government says the average number of weekly cases is a quarter of what it was a few weeks ago and that it is confident some restrictions will be dropped at the start of next month.