Emergency announced in Latvia's healthcare system

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On Thursday, December 10, the Latvian Operational Medical Commission decided to announce an emergency situation in the healthcare system due to the overload caused by COVID-19.

This is principally a legal-technical status which will enable hospital managers to organize their work more freely in case of an influx of COVID-19 patients.

The Minister for Health Ilze Viņķele said that the number of COVID-19 patients continues to grow and nothing suggests that the trend will change in the near future. As COVID-19 also affects health workers, staffing levels are becoming an issue.

In announcing the state of emergency in the healthcare sector, hospital management will have more freedom for reorganization and redeployment of medical personnel, as well as a mandate to limit certain services if necessary, explained the minister.

The Minister noted that the Operational Medical Commission is not chaired by politicians and they do not participate in it: it consists of health sector representatives, hospital managers, practitioners. The Commission has the right to declare medical and healthcare emergencies where necessary and does not need government approval.

Earlier, in an interview with Latvian Radio, Ilze Aizsilniece, head of the Latvian Medical Association, acknowledged the need to announce an emergency situation in health care.

According to data from the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 700 patients are treated in hospitals, almost fifty with severe symptoms.

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