Czech Hospitals Near ‘Total Exhaustion’ as Merkel Offers Aid

The Czech medical system is nearing “total exhaustion” as coronavirus patients overwhelm intensive-care units, forcing hospitals to curb other care and consider seeking help from neighboring countries, a government official said.

The central European nation has turned from one of the continent’s most successful in containing the pandemic last spring into one of the worst-hit in terms of Covid-19 cases and deaths per capita. The escalating health crisis, repeated lockdowns and political infighting are hurting the popularity of billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis eight months before elections.

Czech Hospitals Near ‘Total Exhaustion’ as Merkel Offers Aid

“Health-care capacity is close to total exhaustion,” Deputy Health Minister Vladimir Cerny told reporters Tuesday. “This is an unprecedented situation in Czech history. There’s no way we can ensure health-care standards now.”

After a brief respite that allowed the reopening of stores before Christmas, the Czechs have been experiencing a spike in infections this year, including faster-spreading coronavirus variants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday offered to check the availability of beds in German facilities near the Czech border with a view to transferring Covid-19 patients there, the CTK news service cited Babis as saying.

Cerny said he’s asked the health minister to officially request help from neighboring countries, with Germany already offering to take nine Czech patients. Overall intensive-care capacity may be fully consumed in two to three weeks unless the current spike in infections is curbed, he said.

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