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European countries believed that Germany would always have spare ICU beds for them. Now they're almost full

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

As coronavirus cases rise to record rates, Germany is beginning to struggle with more severe infections than at any other point during the pandemic. The crisis is putting its healthcare system, among the world's best, under strain.

Coronavirus infection numbers hit an all-time record Friday, with nearly 24,000 new daily cases recorded -- and so did the number of patients in the country's intensive care units.

Official data from the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) show that the number of Covid-19 patients in German intensive care units (ICU) has climbed from 267 on September 21 to 3,615 as of November 20 -- a more than 13-fold increase in the space of just two months.

Only two of the 16 ICU beds were vacant and the hospital staff was already canceling non-urgent operations to free up capacity -- as well as making plans to convert more of its general intensive care facilities into Covid units.

After taking into account non-Covid patients, 22,066 intensive care beds in the country were occupied as of November 20, while 6,107 remained vacant.

Until now, Germany has been taking in Covid patients from neighboring countries whose health care systems are overwhelmed.

The German Foreign Office confirmed to CNN that during the first wave of the pandemic, between March 21 and April 12, 232 patients were transferred to Germany for treatment -- 44 of them from Italy, 58 from the Netherlands and 130 from France.

''These patients have a need for intensive medical care,'' said Anja Wengenroth, a spokeswoman at University Hospital Muenster in Muenster, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Anne Funk, head of the division of cross-border cooperation in Germany's smallest federal state of Saarland, which borders France, told CNN that during the first wave of the pandemic, its hospitals took in 32 French patients.

Not only here in the Berlin/Potsdam region, in which we have a heavy burden of intensive care patients, but nationwide the numbers are climbing and they're still climbing, they are not coming down at the moment. "

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