Swiss hospitals implore health minister to tighten coronavirus restrictions

ZURICH (Reuters) – Directors of five of Switzerland’s largest hospitals have written to the health minister calling for urgent measures to reduce coronavirus infections, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Civil Protection Officers Karim Melliti and Mehdi Ben Khaelifa conduct a rapid antigen test at the La Tour Hospital screening center as Swiss Civil Protection officers deploy to assist during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID -19) in Meyrin, near Geneva, Switzerland. , November 26, 2020. Picture taken on November 26, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse / File photo

In their letter to Health Minister Alain Berset, the directors of university hospitals in Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lausanne and Geneva said the pandemic was forcing them to postpone operations for patients with other life-threatening conditions while nursing beds intensive were in short supply.

More than 4,000 operations have been postponed at the five hospitals since October, the newspaper reported.

Switzerland has been hit hard by the epidemic, with around 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day recently. Approximately 1.3% of the population has been infected in the last 28 days.

Directors said they feared a third wave of COVID-19 infections early next year could trigger a collapse in the healthcare system.

A spokesman for the Swiss Department of Public Health declined to comment on the letter on Sunday.

Gregor Zuend from Zurich University Hospital described how a young cancer patient had to be sent home without having the tumor removed because there were no free spaces.

“I am very concerned. The situation is very tense: the intensive care units in Bern, Zurich and Aaragu are now almost fully occupied and the number of cases continues to increase,” he told the newspaper.

On Friday, the Swiss government extended its restrictions and ordered all restaurants, shops and bars to close at 7 p.m.

Zuend of the Zurich University Hospital said he wanted to see a total shutdown, including a ski ban, to control the epidemic.

On Friday, the government said the country must work quickly to reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare workers.

Report by John Revill; Edited by Raissa Kasolowsky