Dutch hospitals postpone chemotherapy and organ transplants due to COVID-19 wave

Doctors treat a patient infected with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit of Maastricht UMC+ Hospital in Maastricht, the Netherlands, Nov. 10, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

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AMSTERDAM, Nov. 25 (Reuters) – Some Dutch hospitals have halted chemotherapy treatments and organ transplants to free up intensive care beds for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, an official said Thursday.

The Dutch Hospital Association for Critical Care says it has asked Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to escalate the national COVID-19 plan to a stage where regular overnight care will be discontinued.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospital has reached levels not seen since early May, and experts have warned that hospitals will reach full capacity in just over a week if the virus is not contained. Several COVID-19 patients have been transferred to German hospitals this week.

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In response to the record high infection rates, the government’s lead Outbreak Management Team called an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening and new lockdown measures are expected to be announced on Friday. read more

Although about 85% of the adult Dutch population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, new cases reached a record high of 23,709 in 24 hours on Wednesday and there is an increase of almost 40% on a weekly basis.

“There are hospitals in different regions that are scaling back care,” said a spokesperson for the hospital association. “We are talking about care that requires a bed. That means that many appointments are cancelled.”

In the next phase of the crisis response plan, hospitals can also enlist the help of military personnel and students to nurse patients.

The Netherlands has registered more than 2.5 million cases and more than 19,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

After the end of most social distancing measures at the end of September, the Dutch government reintroduced the wearing of masks this month and a partial closure, with bars and restaurants closing at 8pm (1900 GMT) read more

Plans to restrict access to many public places to people who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19, prompted three nights of riots last Friday and more than 170 people were arrested across the country. read more

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Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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