Europe struggles to meet demand in hospitals as Omicron faces severe staff shortages

Hospitals in Europe are struggling to care for COVID-19 patients as Omicron Editions is causing massive staffing shortages to health care workers.


On January 7, 2022, the World Health Organization reported a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases worldwide in the past week.

“Indeed, the tsunami of cases is so large and rapid that it is taking a toll on health systems around the world,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


Europe is battling a rapidly spreading Omicron variant with a large number of cases and it is affecting health care systems. France on Wednesday reported the highest single-day record for confirmed cases in Europe with 332,252 new infections.

French authorities have recently allowed health care workers infected with COVID-19 to leave isolation and continue treating patients if they have no symptoms and have been fully vaccinated.


The UK reported nearly 180,000 new cases on Thursday and recently changed its quarantine rules to limit the amount of time people remain in isolation after testing positive.

London deployed nearly 200 military personnel to hospitals to help make up for its “extraordinary” staffing shortage, as England reported a 59 percent increase in staff members’ time off due to COVID-19.

The National Health Service in England said a total of 39,142 NHS hospital staff were out of work on 2 January because of the virus.


A nurse looks at a patient infected with COVID-19 at the Intensive Care Unit of Timon Hospital in Marseille, France, January 5, 2022. France set a record for new COVID cases in a 24-hour period on January 5, 2022. , with 335,000 additional infections being recorded, Health Minister Olivier Veran told parliament.
Nicolas Tucat / AFP / Getty Images

While Omicron seems to be less severe than the delta version, it has rapidly changed, especially among those who have been vaccinated, Ghebreyesus cautioned against treating it lightly.

“Like the previous variants, Omicron is hospitalizing people, and it’s killing people,” he said.

Next week, another 150 soldiers will help out with the ambulance service in northwestern England.


Germany’s leaders were set to consider possible new restrictions and changes to quarantine rules on Friday.

The Netherlands has been in strict lockdown for weeks, a move designed to ease pressure on overburdened hospitals and buy time to speed up a slow-start vaccination booster campaign. Despite the lockdown, infections hit record numbers in the country this week.

In Palermo, Sicily, ancillary facilities were set up in front of three hospitals to reduce pressure on emergency rooms and to allow ambulance workers to bring patients to beds instead of waiting in parking lots.

Staff in white medical overalls and masks pushed gurneys from ambulances into tents.

Tiziana Maniscalichi, director of the Cervello and Civico Palermo hospitals, said most people hospitalized with severe symptoms had not been vaccinated.

“We are under complete pressure,” Maniscalchi told the Associated Press. “There are at least 70 new cases a day for hospitalization. We were forced to set up an additional emergency unit in a tent, as the capacity of the general emergency unit was not sufficient.”

Italy is reporting a record daily new coronavirus infection, reporting 219,000 new cases on Thursday. Officials believe that the peak of this surge is still two to three weeks away.

Hospital systems have already collapsed in the southern Italian city of Naples.

“We risk the collapse of the National Health Service,” said Bruno Zuccarelli, head of the local hospital doctors’ union.

“We can see repeating scenes from October and November 2020 which were very dangerous,” he said.

Greece’s government on Friday issued a civil mobilization order that will take effect next Wednesday and obliges some private sector doctors to support state healthcare during an Omicron-run boom in four northern regions, where There is acute shortage of staff in the hospitals.

Omicron’s progress forced many workers to stay at home and prompted the government to send troops.

Health service leaders said the military deployment highlighted how the country is battling the pandemic.

“We have never known this level of staff absenteeism,” Chand Nagpaul, council chairman of the British Medical Association, told Sky News.

Air Commodore John Lyle told the BBC the military remained in discussions about providing aid for the NHS in other parts of the country besides the capital.

Nagpaul urged action to reduce infections and better protect health care workers against the Omicron variant, saying it was important that “the government doesn’t wait to eliminate it, because people are suffering every day.”

In Naples, doctors’ leader Zuccarelli said a mutation in the virus since Italy was hammered into the first wave in 2020 means children and even children are now hospitalized with COVID-19. are recruited.

“The virus becomes environmentally friendly, we have to make habitat impossible for it, and to do that you absolutely have to vaccinate,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to get vaccinated, you should be afraid of COVID.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

England Ambulance
Paramedics wearing face coverings and PPE wheels of a patient on a trolley near an ambulance parked outside Leeds General Infirmary Hospital in Leeds, northern England on January 5, 2022. British hospitals have switched to a “war footing” due to staff shortages. Omicron infections, the government said on Tuesday, took the country’s daily COVID caseload past 200,000 for the first time.
Photo by Ollie Scarf / AFP via Getty Images