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Corona: first hospitals delay operations

An intensive care unit, as seen in Basel, late last year Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Some Swiss hospitals have begun delaying non-urgent operations due to pressure from the rise in coronavirus infections and hospitalisations, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung has reported.

This content was published on August 28, 2021 - 12:54
Keystone-SDA/SRF/RTS/Swiss media/ilj

The University Hospital Zurich told the newspaperExternal link that it had already started postponing certain operations where patients are not in immediate danger.

The cantonal hospital in Aarau is also postponing certain operations, according to the NZZ report published on Saturday. At Bern University Hospital, an increase in the number of Covid patients is likely, the hospital said. In this case, operations would also be restricted.

In mid-July, there were 20 the Covid-19 patients in intensive care units in Switzerland, this has now risen to 230, according to the NZZ. Latest figures showExternal link that Covid patients now make up around 30% of intensive care patients.

Tranfers, concerns

On Saturday, the Spital Thurgau AG group of hospitals announced that all its intensive care beds were full, half of them with Covid patients. It is transferring patients to hospitals in other cantons, it said.

The Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) has also started to transfer some of its Covid-19 patients to other cantons, due to the rise in the number of these patients. The goal is to “keep room for manoeuvre” at the level of the intensive care beds for the other operations, Rebecca Ruiz, the canton of Vaud’s minister for health, told the Le Temps newspaperExternal link on Saturday.

Increasing the number of beds available in emergency units means "drawing on the teams working in the operating room" to take care of patients affected by Covid-19, she added. This is a decision "fraught with consequences" and could mean postponing planned operations, even though the canton had not caught up with the backlog from previous coronavirus waves, Ruiz explained.

Meanwhile at the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), "the situation in intensive care is worrying", the canton of Geneva’s health director, Adrien Bron, was quoted as saying in La Tribune de Genève. "Postponements of operations will have to be considered again.”

New cases of the coronavirus have rebounded in Switzerland to between 2,500-3,000 a day. The growth is largely due to the highly infectious Delta variant affecting unvaccinated people, mainly in the younger age group. Ruiz said that in the CHUV, only one of the 13 Covid-19 intensive care patients was vaccinated.

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