WHO warns of massive run on hospitals

A coronavirus treatment facility in Italy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that the massive influx of patients requiring medical attention for COVID-19 can overwhelm hospitals’ capacity to provide care for all who need it.

According to the WHO, sharp increases in critical illnesses have already exhausted both biomedical supplies and personnel in some countries. For this reason, hospitals are being urged to develop surge plans and to ensure that health personnel have the personal protective equipment and training they need to prevent infection.

“Health personnel are the first line of defense against this pandemic. We must protect them so they can take care of all of us,” explained Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.

There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19. In severe cases, timely supportive therapy is key and includes oxygen, hydration and fever and pain relief.

PAHO experts are working with ministries of health in the Americas to prepare their countries’ health services to handle increased patient flows and to strengthen infection prevention and control.