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"Seriously ill corona patients are a rarity"

The corona pandemic has lost its horror for Germany's intensive care physicians.

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"Seriously ill corona patients are a rarity"

The corona pandemic has lost its horror for Germany's intensive care physicians. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) announced at the end of a congress in Hamburg that there were currently fewer than 1,000 patients infected with the coronavirus in the intensive care units. A year ago there were more than 5,500 at this point. The load on the intensive care units with corona-infected patients measured by Divi is one of the most important indicators of the threat of the pandemic.

The vast majority of the mostly older Covid intensive care patients do not come to the wards because of Corona, but with the virus and are treated there for another disease such as cancer. "Seriously ill Covid patients are rather a rarity," reported the director of the clinic for intensive care at the Hamburg University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE), Stefan Kluge, at the end of the Divi Congress.

As a reason for the decline in seriously ill corona patients, Kluge cited not only vaccination - "the game changer" - but also the development of virus mutations. The Omikron variant produces significantly milder gradients than the Delta variant. A year ago, she caused a record number of corona patients in the intensive care units.

Even then, it remained unclear how many of these patients had only been admitted “with” or “because of” the infection. Kluge announced in Hamburg that the Divi would soon be regularly separating their numbers according to “with” and “because of” Corona patients in the intensive care units.

Another piece of good news from the Eppendorf clinic director: “There is currently “no virus form in sight that makes you seriously ill”. In any case, the intensive care physicians do not see a “severe winter wave”, as Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) fears for the coming weeks, rolling towards the republic. Rather the opposite.

According to Divi, 5,800 doctors came to the congress in the Hanseatic city to find out about the current situation and prospects of intensive care medicine in person - a mass event that the majority of those present would have warned against a year ago. In the meantime, from the point of view of intensive care medicine, the virus no longer poses an acute threat to the German health system and the care of seriously ill people in intensive care units. The problem, according to Felix Walcher, director of trauma surgery at the University Hospital in Marburg, is now more the lack of staff in the clinics .

According to Walcher, the staff in the hospitals had been “excessively stressed” in recent years. Many would therefore currently reduce their working hours, some would even give up their jobs altogether. The result: Despite the all-clear on the Corona front, capacities are reaching their limits. In some federal states, the proportion of free beds in intensive care units has already fallen to less than ten percent, according to Divi. In other countries, the proportion of beds that can still be occupied varies between ten and twenty percent.

The reason is, among other things, that around 2,000 fewer intensive care beds could be looked after than a year ago due to the lack of staff, said Divi President Gernot Marx on Friday in the Congress Center Hamburg. The situation in the intensive care units is "significantly tense" in many areas of Germany.

The current wave of respiratory infections is pushing children's hospitals in Germany to their limits. German intensive care and emergency physicians complain about a dramatic lack of beds in children's hospitals.

Quelle: WELT / Sandra Saatmann

The situation in Germany's children's hospitals is once again much more difficult, as Divi experts reported on Thursday. There, the massive wave of infections and the ongoing shortage of staff are pushing pediatric intensive care to the limit.

In the children's intensive care units, there are only 0.75 free beds per clinic, i.e. less than one per location. Of the 110 children's hospitals surveyed, 43 facilities had no free bed on the normal ward. Every second clinic has had to reject at least one child in the past 24 hours after being asked by the emergency services or the emergency room for pediatric intensive care. "That", according to the Divi General Secretary and children's intensive care physician Florian Hoffmann, "is a catastrophic situation".

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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