Hundreds of hospitals in Germany are struggling with significant staff shortages as the country battles the Omicron wave of Covid-19, putting pressure on intensive care units.
“A high number of staff testing positive is very burdensome for many hospitals,” president of the intensive care association DIVI, Gernot Marx, told the Augsburger Allgemeine on Tuesday.
“Thus, 518 out of 1,320 intensive care units are currently again stating that they are working in a restricted operation.”
Marx added that the state of North Rhine-Westphalia had seen a spike of Covid infections following recent carnival celebrations. He said that “a carnival effect was very clearly felt” in some hospitals.
Staff absences due to quarantine and isolation
Similar concerns have been voiced by the chairman of the German Hospital Federation (DKG), Gerald Gaß.
“We have a nationwide problem with staff absences due to quarantine and isolation,” Gaß told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
A current survey shows “that 75 percent of hospitals are no longer able to offer their normal range of services, and the crucial factor for this is the staff shortages,” he said.
And the high number of Covid infections means that there will be no respite in the coming weeks either, Gaß said. He added, however, that one positive is that the occupancy rate in ICUs has not been increasing.
Incidence keeps climbing
Germany is continuing to see a spike in Covid infections, which experts believe is partly fuelled by the more transmissible Omicron subtype BA.2.
On Tuesday the incidence reached 1,733.4 Covid infections per 100,000 people, increasing from 1,714.2 on Monday and 1,584.4 a week ago.
Health offices in Germany reported 222,080 new Covid infections and 264 Covid-related deaths within the latest 24-hour period.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said in its daily report on Monday that the 7-day incidence of hospitalised Covid cases stands at 7.36 per 100,000 population.
There are currently around 2,347 Covid patients in ICUs across Germany, with 887 receiving ventilation treatment. During previous Covid peaks there were more than 5,000 patients in intensive care units.