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The ‘exhausted’ Swiss doctors were reeling when the second wave of the virus struck



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La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland) (AFP)

There is no room. The patient with a severe Covid-19 infection lies in all 10 closed beds in the intensive care unit of this small Swiss hospital, but more continues to come.

“This morning, I was asked to treat one more patient … so I had to transfer the most stable patient and I had to move to another hospital to make room,” said Herve Zender, chief physician at La’s ICU -Chaux-de-Fonds. , told AFP.

The abrupt reform at the hospital in western Switzerland in recent days has become routine.

“This is what we are doing every day, basically every day,”

; he said.

“Equipment is constantly filling. We don’t have redundancy.”

For weeks now, the new coronavirus has mercilessly hit Switzerland, and especially its French-speaking region, where hospitals are rapidly becoming overwhelmed.

Switzerland emerged relatively calm after the first wave of Covid-19 infections in the spring, but as the second wave engulfed Europe, the medical staff here agreed that the situation in the rich country Alpine is even more worrying this time around.

– ‘More patients’ –

“There are a lot of patients” around this time, Zender said.

Chief nurse Brigitte Hostettler agrees.

“One could say the first wave was bearable. We managed to handle everything and we didn’t see a huge flow,” she told AFP.

“But now, this is becoming very difficult to manage.”

Switzerland, a country of 8.5 million people, is currently witnessing one of Europe’s biggest spikes in the number of cases relative to population size.

In recent days, its daily cases have consistently surpassed 10,000, and currently this number is more than 200,000 and more than 2,330 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

And the number of people hospitalized is increasing.

“There are too many patients. Too many patients are admitted. It’s complicated,” Hostettler said.

“There are also more employees who have had positive results.”

As for who patients are, she says they are of “all ages”.

“Many of them are elderly, aged 70 to 80 and over, but there are also younger ones, 45, 35 years old.”

The Swiss state of Neuchatel, home to the La-Chaux-de-Fonds hospital, has 314 positive tests per 10,000 population.

According to the hospital network Neuchatel (RHNe), this figure is almost double the rate of infection in Switzerland, where there are currently 174 infections per 10,000 people.

In an effort to cope with the rise of infections, the network has strengthened the capacity of its beds and staff to be able to care for 250 Covid-19 patients hospitalized at the same time.

On Wednesday, 120 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 and 19 suspected cases were hospitalized statewide with about 33,000 residents, RHNe said.

La-Chaux-de-Fonds Hospital meanwhile was forced to suspend all operations, postpone many interventions and refer the most urgent cases to other hospitals.

– ‘Mental and physical exhaustion’ –

The medical staff here said they understand that people are “fed up” with increasingly strict measures to contain the pandemic.

But they say most people do not seem to realize how fast and dangerous the situation at hospitals has been.

Some also criticized the Swiss government for not taking more decisive measures.

Bern last week announced a series of measures, including more stringent requirements for masking and crowd size, but have stopped at bringing the entire country back to partial-season limits. spring.

Some states, including Neuchatel, have gone further and require restaurants, bars and most stores to close.

Medical staff say they hope that will be enough to slow the rise.

“Everyone is tired,” said Jeremy Bouhelier, the ICU chief nurse.

“Just mentally and physically exhausted.”


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