Health Ministry gears up for Omicron, plans to establish emergency health facilities

The aim is to minimise Covid deaths during the expected abrupt increase of hospitalisations caused by Omicron.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR/AP)

The third wave of the pandemic has overloaded the capacity of the Slovak health system and left only minimum reserves, both in hospitals and the physical and mental capacities of Slovak healthcare workers.

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The ministry said that taking into consideration the character of the spread of the Omicron variant in the world, there is a serious threat to the Slovak healthcare system which will not be able to absorb the increase in the hospitalisation of Omicron infections in time since hospitals are still at the edge of their capacities with the receding Delta wave.

Seven cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in Slovakia as of December 23. Observers agree that by the new year, the number of infected patients will start to increase again.

Emergency health facilities

The Health Ministry, therefore, proposed preparing emergency health facilities that sort patients and the basic therapy provided. The proposal was approved by the government.

The ministry proposes establishing one such facility initially and preparing for the fast expansion to four of them, or one smaller facility in each region. The initial capacity is 1,000 beds.

Surgeries shunted back again as Covid cases fill up hospitals Read more 

“It must be emphasised that this is an emergency solution with the provision of very basic medical care at the level of war medicine, and not an increase in hospital capacity,” said Minister Vladimír Lengvarský. “This is an extremely complicated operation, which requires a lightning-fast implementation in the first weeks of 2022. We must be prepared for the worst-case scenario in terms of predictions for the Omicron variant.”

Minimise Covid deaths

The aim of the intervention is to minimise the number of Covid deaths during a humanitarian catastrophe, decrease the strain on health facilities, optimise the admission of patients, and offer oxygen therapy to patients with respiratory difficulties in a more timely manner.

“It will thus be possible to classify patients more efficiently, to provide basic health care, oxygen and pharmaceutical treatment, and thus release the vehicles of the Rescue Medical Service for further trips more quickly,” Lengvarský added. “As for the staff, we have created a model example of 250 beds. We also count on the assistance of the armed forces and medical students. The emergency facility will belong to a larger hospital by territory, so it will cooperate closely with it.”

Third wave passes peak but Omicron still ahead Read more 

Due to the parameters of the Omicron variant, it is necessary to limit the spread of the disease in "white" wards where patients other than Covid ones are being treated. Furthermore, the spread among healthcare workers must be limited, especially in white wards, where a Covid-positive health care provider cannot, due to the risk of nosocomial infections, work, the ministry said.

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