Nursing homes in Europe struggle with COVID-19 pandemic

Nursing homes in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium face serious difficulties, including shortage of medical supplies

Erbil Basay, Serife Cetin, Yusuf Ozcan, Senhan Bolelli, Askin Kıyagan, Baris Seckin   | 02.04.2020
Nursing homes in Europe struggle with COVID-19 pandemic


Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, whose mortality rate is higher in the elderly, a series of measures have been taken in nursing homes in Europe.

Nursing homes in the worst-hit countries by the pandemic, such as Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain, have been facing serious difficulties.

Visitors are banned from these facilities as part of measures to stem the spread of the virus, while there is a shortage of medical supplies.

Some families want to take their relatives from these facilities as they fear that there is no enough protection against the virus.

According to Robert Koch Institute in Germany, 87% of those who died in the country were over 70 years old.

Nearly 800,000 people are living in nursing homes in Germany and most of them have other different health issues.

Although measures were taken, the increase in the number of cases in nursing homes cannot be curbed.

Many nursing homes have announced that they will not accept new guests due to the increasing number of cases and deaths. Schleswig-Holstein state also banned taking new guests.

Patrick Larscheid, an official at the health office of the District Council of Reinickendorf in Berlin, said the biggest problem is that caregivers bring the virus to nursing homes. "But we cannot give up on them," he said.

17 people in Hanns Lilje Nursing Home in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, 24 in two nursing homes in Bavaria, and 5 in an elderly dormitory in Cologne have recently died due to COVID-19.

Shortage of medical supplies

Like other countries, Belgium is also facing a shortage of medical supplies.

Vincent Fredericq, head of Belgium’s nursing home association, said some families have sewn masks and donated to nursing homes, adding staff members of these facilities are also at risk.

Belgium also released a decree to keep elderly COVID-19 patients with preexisting conditions in nursing homes and not to send them to hospitals.

Some four people in nursing homes have lost their lives so far in the country.

Meanwhile, French officials have not confirmed deaths in nursing homes, but the local media claims 109 people fell victim to the COVID-19.

Frederic Valletoux, the president of the French Hospitals Federation, which has 100 state hospitals and 3,800 elderly nursing homes under its roof, reported that in the Ile-de-France region, the coronavirus was detected in 100-150 of 700 nursing homes.

Nursing homes disinfected in Spain

Some 600 people -- 100 of them in Madrid -- have died in nursing homes since the beginning of the outbreak in Spain.

As part of the preventive measures, nursing homes in the country were disinfected by the military.

Some of the nursing homes are abandoned in the country and people were found dead on their beds, Spanish media reported. Prosecutors are investigating the incidents.

Nursing homes in Italy under pressure

People who are working in nursing homes in Italy have quarantined themselves and there is no one to take care of the elderly. Families are worried because they cannot reach their relatives.

In Bergamo province, where the most deaths and cases are seen from the coronavirus, 600 people staying in nursing homes have died in 20 days.

Also, 33 people died in nursing homes in Brescia, the worst-hit region after Bergamo.

Some 11 people have died in a nursing home in Grugliasco near Turin over the weekend. But it cannot be known for sure whether they died due to the coronavirus.

*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara

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