Swiss hospitals implore health minister to tighten coronavirus restrictions

Civil protection agents Karim Melliti and Mehdi Ben Khaelifa perform an antigenic rapid test at the screening center of La Tour Hospital as Swiss civil protection agents are deployed to help during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland

The directors of five of Switzerland’s largest hospitals have written to the health minister asking for urgent measures to reduce coronavirus infections, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

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

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

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

The directors said they feared a third wave of COVID-19 infections early next year could trigger a collapse in the health 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 one young cancer patient had to be sent home without having his tumor removed because there was no free spaces.

“I am very worried. The situation is very tense – the intensive care units in Bern, Zurich and Aaragu are now nearly completely occupied, and the number of cases is still increasing,” he told the newspaper.

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

Zurich University Hospital’s Zuend said he wanted to see a full lockdown, including a ban on skiing, to get the epidemic under control.

On Friday the government said the country need to work quickly to reduce the burden on hospitals and health workers.

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