Surge in COVID-19 infections deepens crisis in Germany’s hospitals

The occupancy rate in Germany’s hospitals due to rising coronavirus infections has doubled nationwide in just one week. In several federal states, intensive care units and emergency rooms are hopelessly overwhelmed. Beds cannot be used due to staff shortages, and many hospitals have opted out of offering emergency care.

The rapid surge of the pandemic in Germany and internationally is once again bringing hospitals, which have been operating at their limits for almost three years, to the brink of collapse. This development was not only predictable, it was consciously accepted. Despite the dangers for patients and workers, the federal and state governments are not prepared to implement even the most basic protective measures.

Gerald Gass, chairman of the German Hospital Association (DKG), recently reported that planned operations and treatments are already being postponed, and urgently needed beds are being left empty due to a lack of personnel. “These are things that are probably happening in half of the hospitals right now,” Gass said. “And the situation is likely to deteriorate even further in the coming weeks.”

According to the intensive care registry of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi), 1,660 patients with COVID-19 had to be treated in intensive care units as of October 11.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s central disease control agency, reports that there were 220 active outbreaks in medical facilities last week, compared with 155 the previous week. In elderly care and nursing homes, the number has risen from 301 to 413. “These developments can be interpreted as a direct consequence of the rapid spread [of COVID] in recent weeks,” the report said.

In fact, the increase in hospital admissions reflects the dramatic increase in the overall number of infections, which has risen sharply. The seven-day incidence of infections per 100,000 inhabitants was reported by the RKI on Monday at 680. On the same day, the RKI reported 151,420 new infections. Experts assume that the number of infections is much higher, because many infected people no longer perform a PCR test and are therefore not recorded in the official statistics. The death toll is also rising sharply again. Between 100 and 200 people die from COVID-19 every day.