Latvian government moves to increase COVID hospital bed capacity

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To ensure the continued treatment of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, the government decided at its Tuesday, December 8 cabinet meeting to allocate an additional eight million euros to create new beds for COVID-19 patients, re-profile existing beds in hospitals, and provide additional necessary equipment. 

The government also moved to provide €32 million in allowances - up to 100% of the monthly salary - to doctors involved in combating the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health (VM) reported that patients with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized in 10 different hospitals, including three university clinical hospitals and seven regional hospitals. As of December 8 of this year, out of 796 beds available for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, 581 were occupied, which is 73% capacity. 

At the same time, some COVID-19 patients are in other specialized settings, such as psychoneurological hospitals. The total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 709, which means that the number of available beds is currently filling up very rapidly.

"There are currently six hospital with disrupted admissions... which of course puts a heavy burden on the service, as we have very complex patient logistics" said Liene Cipule, head of the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD).

There is also a lack of human resources with doctors falling sick and becoming exhausted. As these trends continue, decisions may need to be made that will further restrict access to health care, the government heard, amid indications that coming days and weeks will likely see the situation become even more serious.

In addition to the state of emergency already in place across the country, a decision on whether to declare a state of emergency in the health sector could be made on Thursday, depending on the latest Covid-19 statistics, LSM's Latvian language service reported.

"We must be prepared as, according to the forecasts of virologists and epidemiologists, the virus could be particularly fierce throughout Europe before mass vaccination begins in January and February," warned Health Minister Ilze Viņķele.

As far as vaccinations are concerned, it is planned to allocate more than 13 million euros for the purchase of vaccines, and another 15 million euros to carry out the vaccinations.

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