Dutch hospitals carried out 26% fewer scheduled operations last week as the impact of the latest spike in coronavirus cases began to be felt.
Analysis by the Netherlands Healthcare Authority (NZa) said the proportion was expected to increase to 40% during the Christmas week as a result of Covid-19 patients taking up more hospital capacity and rising staff sickness levels.
On Wednesday the public health agency RIVM reported that 2,289 patients are currently in hospital with Covid-19, with 603 of them in intensive care. At the same time 8% of staff are on sick leave, though not all of them have coronavirus.
Medical care minister Tamara van Ark said on Tuesday that non-urgent operations were being cancelled, but those that must go ahead within six weeks, such as organ transplants and cancer surgery, will still go ahead.
The national acute care association has estimated that more than 2,500 coronavirus patients will be in hospital at the end of the year, including 640 in intensive care beds.
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