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German ICUs reach full capacity with COVID-19 patients

The coronavirus pandemic has put a huge strain on Europe’s health care systems with many intensive care units (ICU) in Germany reaching full capacity with seriously ill COVID-19 patients. There are currently 40% more COVID-19 patients in ICUs than during the first wave in the spring, the head of the German Hospital Federation (DKG), Gerald Gass has warned in an interview with the Welt Am Sonntag. DKG said around 16,000 patients are being treated for the disease in non-critical care wards.

Intensive care specialists expressed alarm last Monday at the situation in German hospitals and called on the wider population to observe the measures in place to contain the coronavirus pandemic. “We are in a total emergency the like of which we have never seen in the history of intensive medicine,” Gernot Marx of the German Association for Anaesthesiology and Intensive Medicine (DIVI) said, as reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). He called for gatherings to be avoided over the festive season, saying this could help more people to survive.

The number of coronavirus infections remains at a high level in Europe, prompting countries to roll out further restrictions as the holidays approach. Europe accounts for 40% of new global coronavirus cases and half of the new global deaths due to the virus, the head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European office said last Friday.

US sees record cases

The virus has killed more than 1.5 million people and infected over 65 million since it emerged in China in December of last year. In the United States, hospitalizations of coronavirus patients topped 100,000 for the first time Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, as Washington, which has suffered the highest virus toll with more than 270,000 deaths, reported that it hopes to have immunized 100 million people against COVID-19 by the end of February.

More Californians than ever are now being infected by and hospitalized with the coronavirus as the pandemic continues its relentless march across the state over the weekend. With case numbers that are historically high and show no signs of relenting, California officials are turning their eyes toward the state’s hospital system, which they’ve long warned is at risk of being flooded by a wave of coronavirus patients. More than 19,600 Californians have died from the virus throughout the pandemic and should the current rate continue, the total death toll is expected to surpass 20,000 this week.

For the third day in a row, the U.S. on Saturday notched a record number of coronavirus cases in 24 hours, reaching nearly 230,000 new infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. In that same stretch, America recorded 2,527 COVID-19-related deaths, according to real-time data provided by the Baltimore-based university.

The U.S., the country with the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, has seen a dramatic resurgence in its epidemic in recent weeks. Health officials warned of a surge after millions of Americans traveled to celebrate last week’s Thanksgiving holiday despite pleas from authorities to stay home. For two weeks, the U.S. has regularly topped 2,000 deaths per day, as it had in the spring at the height of the first wave of the country’s outbreak.

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