PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovakia will ask other European Union member countries for medical staff to help with the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
The plea is the country’s first, after the previous plan to have large-scale testing followed by targeted measures in the hardest-hit regions did not tame the epidemic.
Coronavirus infections are on the rise in Slovakia with nearly 2,000 new cases reported on average each day. While the country has had a total of under 6,100 COVID-19 deaths, based on the most recent 7-day rolling average, Slovakia ranks first in deaths per million in population, according to ourworldindata.org.
Bratislava is seeking 10 doctors and 25 nurses for one month at least, the ministry said, putting it alongside Portugal, which asked Germany for medical staff help in January.
“New variants caused a rise in number of patients and bigger demand for personnel. The request is meant mainly for intensive care units and anesthesiology and intensive medicine departments,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.
The UK coronavirus variant, more infectious than the previously dominant version, has taken over as the main cause of new COVID-19 cases in Slovakia, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Feb 5.
There were 3,632 patients hospitalised as of Wednesday morning, including 608 in serious condition, placed at intensive care or high dependency care units.
Looking for other options to fight the pandemic, Slovakia may buy the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, although it has not been registered yet by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Bill Berkrot)