Overcrowded children’s hospitals in Switzerland are forced to turn away patients because of the RS virus

Dozens of babies and toddlers in Switzerland fall ill every day with the so-called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a serious respiratory disease that can cause acute bronchitis with complications in young children. Clogged airways, affected children are at risk for shortness of breath and lack of oxygen.

While in February there were less than ten cases per week, in July there were as many as 115 cases per week. This is evidenced by data from the Swiss Children’s Infectious Disease Group. Many children are indicated for immediate hospitalization followed by artificial respiration . In particular, there has been a significant increase in RSV in the cantons of Zurich and Graubünden. In the other Swiss cantons the situation is still calm.

In the cantonal hospital of Winterthur, the number of children with RSV infection doubled from early June to early July. Most of the children are one year old and younger. The pediatric and adolescent medicine department is very busy, says Meret spokeswoman Ann von Arx. “Sometimes we are forced to transfer children to other children’s clinics in the region because of the lack of space.

So far, young patients have always found a place to be treated. But: “If the numbers continue to grow to the same extent, we can’t rule out bed overload throughout the region. We can hope that warmer weather and the vacation season will reduce the growth.

Children’s Hospital Zurich is also overloaded, confirms Christoph Berger, head of infectious diseases and hospital hygiene at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich. He fears that the number of cases in July will be even higher than in June (75 cases). In April there were only ten cases.

In an interview, Mr. Berger says, “RS-virus is now a bigger problem than coronavirus. The reason for the increase is isolation during the pandemic.” Since many children failed to develop immunity last winter, Berger says, they are even more affected. Younger ones are especially affected. “When you first get RS virus, it’s always worse.”