The unused military field hospital in Prague-Letňany will be packed up due to staff shortages even as high numbers of COVID-19 patients stretch Czech health-care facilities to the limits, officials said on Friday.
The army erected the field hospital on the outskirts of Prague in October on the site of an exhibition ground and put the facility on standby, equipped to care for as many as 500 COVID-19 patients.
“We are unable to roll out the hospital in a way that makes sense,” Deputy Health Minister Vladimir Cerny told a news conference. “If we (do) have staff, it seems to be more purposeful to reinforce standard hospitals than to activate the field hospital.”
The 500-bed hospital was constructed by the Czech Army last October, as a hurried response to the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases.
The state also purchased 4,000 beds from hospital and nursing bed maker LINET.
There were 5,856 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals as of Thursday, including 970 in intensive care – about 20% below peaks in mid-January.
But six of the country’s 14 regions reported zero or single-digit numbers of available intensive care beds. Officials have used ambulances and helicopters to move patients to less crowded hospitals while suspending non-urgent care for weeks.
With around 8,000 new infections reported every day of late, the government fears any new spike in cases from an expected spread of a more infectious British variant of the virus could overload hospital capacity.
Hospitals have also reported declining but still high numbers of infected staff – 4,047 nationwide as of Friday – and have shut downwards and repurposed others especially for COVID patients, running some with the help of soldiers and volunteers.