European hospitals under pressure as COVID-19 patient numbers increase

European hospitals under pressure as COVID-19 patient numbers increase

The University Hospital of Liege in Belgium is overwhelmed by new admissions of patients sick with COVID-19. Some nurses who tested positive for the virus have even had to continue working to keep up with rising numbers.

The Casal Palocco hospital south of Rome is seeing an increase in the number of patients being hospitalised with COVID-19. Nearly all of its 30 intensive care unit beds dedicated to pandemic response are filled with COVID patients. Italy's Lazio region, which includes the capital, became the third in the country to institute a curfew on Wednesday, in an effort to contain dramatically rising coronavirus cases.

With Portugal continuing to record high numbers of the new coronavirus, pressure on health services is also increasing.

On Tuesday, Portugal recorded 2,535 new cases of COVID-19, the second-highest ever since the beginning of the pandemic.

At Lisbon's Santa Maria hospital, professionals say the situation is manageable but they do not hide concerns for what winter may bring.

Santa Maria is not only Lisbon's main hospital, it is also the biggest health facility in the country with a total of one-thousand beds across all services.

Official bodies such as the head of nurses and doctors have called on the government to increase medical personnel across the system – you may have the extra beds but manpower is also key.

Following the recent surge in the number of cases, the Portuguese government declared a state of calamity – one level below a state of emergency - and decided to restrict social gatherings to a maximum of five people. It's also preparing to make masks mandatory outdoors in a parliamentary session on Friday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa has called the surge in new coronavirus cases "serious" but has rejected imposing a strict lockdown that would hurt the economy.