The Czech government – after strong pressure from regional authorities – has finally decided to ask Germany, Poland and Switzerland for help as its hospitals are currently running out of capacity, particularly in the regions bordering with Germany and Poland.
The government has so far been reluctant to transfer COVID-19 patients abroad, saying it is capable of handling the situation on its own. However, such a view has not been shared in regions suffering from the worst epidemiological situation.
While local leaders have been asking for the transfer of patients abroad since the end of January, the country’s health ministry only admitted on Friday that local hospitals are no longer able to provide appropriate care and launched the necessary procedures in order to transfer COVID-19 patients abroad.
Although Czechia has been developing cross-border health care services systems for many years using funds from the EU’s Interreg programme, cross-border services have been suspended due to the pandemic. This has had a negative impact on citizens living around the borders who were used to travel to nearby German or Austrian hospitals.
Czech COVID-19 patients from the country’s most hit regions are currently travelling hundreds of kilometres to less stressed Czech hospitals instead of going to the closer German ones. German authorities already confirmed that they have capacity, even for Czech citizens.
(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)