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Coronavirus pandemic: RKI sees dramatic situation in hospitals

Coronavirus pandemic : RKI sees dramatic situation in hospitals

Some intensive care units in Germany have already reached their limits because of the pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute advises that transferring patients to other regions may be necessary. He also calls on politicians to act.

The Robert Koch Institute has urged policymakers to fight the off the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. "We need to get the numbers down. It's naive to think we can test the virus away. It won't work," Institute Director Lothar Wieler said Thursday in Berlin. For that, he said, regulations, effective strategies and consistent implementation are needed. "The situation in hospitals is coming to a head, in some cases dramatically, and will also hit us even harder than in the second wave. We need to act now."

Wieler advised all hospitals to limit their regular operations to conserve capacity for treating seriously ill patients. In some cities and metropolitan areas, there are already no vacant beds in intensive care units, he said. "And this is a situation where we should expect more patients." Those who are ill but stable should be transferred in a timely manner from regions with an acute shortage of beds to less affected regions.

Because of the severity of the cases, more and more ventilators are needed in intensive care units, the RKI president said. Eight out of ten ventilators are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Among them are now also many younger adults.

There has been progress in getting people vaccinated, but many will still have to wait several months or longer for their vaccine, including children, he said. Most new cases of Covid-19 are now among 15- to 49-year-olds, he said. And, "the death toll is no longer going down." Even after surviving the disease, the suffering is not always over, Wieler reported. One in ten of those who recover still suffers from long-term consequences for weeks or months after recovery.

The number of cases is not increasing due to more tests being performed, the scientist emphasized. There are 12 percent positive PCR tests - but only half of the (test) capacity is being used.

Wieler compared the current pandemic situation to a picture: "Imagine you are driving along narrow roads in the Dolomites. It's winding and there's a steep slope on one side. Everyone knows I can only drive into this curve at 30. If I drive in here at a speed of 100, it's life-threatening. You run off the road. And to be honest, no emergency brake will help.”

(Orig. text: dpa; Translation: ck)