The Covid-19 pandemic is out of control in much of Europe and the increase in infections puts the health systems of the old continent on the ropes. To avoid sanitary collapse, each country puts its own measures:
Curfew to avoid saturation in France
In France there are about 25,000 patients hospitalized for Covid-19 and 2,600 in resuscitation services, figures that have been growing since the recent Christmas holidays. This means that 52% of ICU beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients. But the situation of the health centers is quite unequal as we observe the map of France, with a much greater pressure for care in the eastern regions of the country such as Burgundy, where this figure is already shooting up to 90%; Alsace or the Alps and much more relieved in the western half of the country, especially in Brittany, with 23% of coronavirus patients in ICUs. At the moment the situation seems somewhat more controlled than in neighbors such as the United Kingdom. But the British strain is already multiplying in several regions of France and this may lead to even more restrictive measures in the coming days, such as the advance of the curfew at 6 p.m. that has already been announced by the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, in order not to reach the situation of hospital saturation that is already being experienced in other neighboring countries such as the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom already vaccinates in pharmacies
Some pharmacies in the United Kingdom have joined the country’s national vaccination program against Covid-19, which already exceeds 84,000 deaths and continues to record alarming numbers of infections, reports Efe. For now, there will be just six pharmacies located in Macclesfield, London, Telford, Widnes, Halifax and Guildford. The objective? Help meet the goal set by the Conservative government to vaccinate the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February. With this mission, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced this week that the Executive will enable “as soon as possible” operational vaccination points “24 hours a day, every day of the week”, while admitting that for the moment there are supply problems in the doses. The country is experiencing the worst death toll since the pandemic began. On Wednesday, it reached a new death record by counting 1,564. This has meant that several hospitals have had to resort to makeshift morgues for emergencies due to the lack of capacity in health centers.
Italy, on the brink of the maximum risk threshold
Italian hospitals are on the edge of the risk threshold. At the moment, the occupancy of Covid-19 patients in ICUs stands at an average of 30%, while in the rest of the distributions the rate is around 40%. In both cases, that is the limit set by the health authorities so that the medical centers can respond without too many problems. In some regions this ceiling is exceeded, such as in Trento, to the north, where rates exceed 50%. In any case, the numbers are much lower than a few months ago, since in the middle of the second wave in regions like Piedmont, Covid patients came to occupy more than 90% of hospital beds. Last year, with the onset of the pandemic, the Government doubled the number of ICUs, but when they were needed in November they were slow to make them available due to the absence of doctors. Italy has not yet fully entered the third wave, as it took longer to tackle the second, so hospitals are not in collapse. However, the Executive has extended the restrictions, which has tightened in some cases, for the next two months.
Germany confines until Easter
With 28,000 intensive care beds, which translates to almost 40 beds per 100,000 inhabitants, Germany has one of the strongest healthcare systems in the world. However, these figures could remain small if the number of infected continues to increase and set new records, at the rate that has been happening in recent days. According to data published by the newspaper “Bild”, the number of free ICU beds is around 4,000, which has set off alarms both in hospitals and within the government. The accumulated incidence in the last seven days stands at 151.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and new infections totaled 125,749 in the last week. For this reason, the country is expected to maintain confinement until at least Easter. The president of the Robert Koch Institute of Virology, Lothar Wieler, said on Thursday that the current restrictions do not constitute in his view a “total” halt in public life and that “there is still a lot of room” to tighten the measures.
Portugal imposes a new blockade
Portugal launched a new blockade last Friday to control record cases of coronavirus, as announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Antonio Costa. “We are in the most dangerous moment” of the pandemic, he said. “The rule is simple: we must all stay at home,” Costa reminded Portuguese citizens, in statements collected by Reuters. The blockade will be the same as that of the first wave, except that all schools, public and private, will remain open, since the number of infections reported in them was not significant. In addition, movement restrictions will be eased on January 24 due to the country’s presidential elections. Thus, as between March and April 2020, all non-essential businesses will be closed, although restaurants will be able to provide take-out services. Supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries, gas stations and banks will remain open. Distance work will be compulsory whenever possible. These measures, although they must be reviewed every 15 days, are likely to last a month, as Costa advanced.