Europe scrambles for health care as omicron spreads

THE HAGUE (AP), -- Troops were deployed to London hospitals. France is home to COVID-19-infected health care workers. The Netherlands is currently under lockdown and tented field hospital have been set up in Sicily.

Europe scrambles for health care as omicron spreads

Europe's nations are trying to support their health systems that have been strained by staff shortages. This is due to the highly transmissible coronavirus variant, which has sent a tsunami of infections across the continent.

Stephen Powis (national medical director at Britain’s National Health Service) stated Friday that Omicron is a greater number of patients and fewer staff.

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that an unprecedented 9.5 million COVID-19-related cases had been tallied worldwide in the past week. This is 71% more than the previous 7 days. The number of weekly deaths recorded has declined.

Omicron is less severe than its delta cousin, but it can still be fatal, even among those who have been vaccinated. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, cautioned against taking it lightly.

He said, "Just like the previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing patients, and it's even killing people." "In fact, this tsunami of cases is so fast that it is overburdening health systems all around the globe."

This was evident in London on Friday, where 200 military personnel including 40 medics were deployed to hospitals that struggled to provide vital care amid an "exceptional" staff shortage. The problem is being attributed to the COVID-19-related increase in sick and isolated workers. Another 150 troops will be supporting an ambulance service in north England next week.

Sajid Javid, Health Secretary of the NHS, visited King's College Hospital London and warned that hospital admissions are increasing. He also stated that the NHS faced a "rocky few more weeks."

According to the National Health Service of England, 59% more NHS staff were absent from hospital trusts in England for COVID-19 reasons than the week before.

The U.K. has also changed its coronavirus testing guidelines to shorten the time it takes for people to isolate if they test positive.

Germany's leaders agreed Friday that they would tighten entry requirements to bars and restaurants, and shorten self-isolation and quarantine periods.

French authorities have allowed health care workers infected by the coronavirus to continue treating patients, rather than self-isolating.

France reported a staggering 332,252 daily viral cases on Wednesday. This is Europe's highest single-day confirmed infection count.

The Netherlands has been under strict lockdown since weeks. This was done to relieve pressure on hospitals overburdened and allow time for a slow-starting vaccine booster campaign to get underway. Despite the lockdown this week, infection rates in the Netherlands reached record levels.

To relieve pressure on the emergency rooms in Palermo (Sicily), auxiliary facilities were built in front of three hospitals in order to let ambulance crews get patients to beds and not wait in the lot.

White medical staff wore masks and were dressed in white to push gurneys from ambulances into tents.

Tiziana Maniscalichi (director of Cervello, Civico Palermo) said that most patients with severe symptoms were not vaccinated.

Maniscalichi stated that they are under extreme pressure. "There are at most 70 new patients per day that need to be admitted to the hospital." Because the emergency unit's capacity was insufficient, we had to create an additional tent-based emergency unit.

Italy has been reporting daily record numbers of coronavirus cases, with 219,000 new cases reported on Thursday. Officials believe that the peak of this surge will still be two to three weeks away.

In Naples, a southern Italian city, the hospital system is already overwhelmed.

Bruno Zuccarelli, the head of Bruno Zuccarelli's local hospital doctors' association stated that "we risk the collapse of national healthcare services."

He said, "We could see a repetition of the scenes from October and November 2020 that were very, very hazardous."

The Greek government issued Friday a civil mobilization notice that will be in effect from next Wednesday. It requires some doctors in private practice to assist the state health system during an omicron-driven surge of patients in four northern regions, where there is acute staffing shortages.

The U.K. reported almost 180,000 new cases of omicrons on Thursday, prompting many workers to stay home. This has prompted the government and the government to send in troops.

According to health service officials, the military deployment showed how hard the country is trying to fight the pandemic.

Sky News' Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association council, stated that "we have never experienced this level of staff absenteness before."

The BBC was informed by John Lyle, Air Commodore of the Navy, that discussions are ongoing with the military about supporting the NHS in other areas of the country.

Nagpaul called for action to reduce infections and protect health care workers from the omicron variant. He stated that it was crucial that "the government does not just wait to see this through, because everyday people are suffering."

Zuccarelli, a doctor in Naples, stated that the mutations in the virus in Italy since the first wave of 2020 has meant that children and babies are being admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

He said, "The virus adapts the environment to it. We have to make its habitat impossible for it to thrive." "Do not be afraid to vaccinate. You must be afraid COVID."

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