The Swiss health authorities have raised alarm over the limited care facilities in one of its regions hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic.
“The situation in Ticino is dramatic,” said Daniel Koch of the Federal Office of Public Health at a news conference on Thursday.
He said it was foreseeable that the hospitals in canton Ticino, bordering Italy, will not have beds for patients in intensive care in the next few days.
Koch said the number of places had been increased to avoid a situation where some patients can’t be admitted to hospital any longer, and a transfer to another region is too risky.
Overall Swiss hospitals have a total of 800 beds in intensive care, currently about 160 are still available.
Ticino has almost 180 cases of confirmed infections per 100,000 people. the number of cases is likely to rise further.
However, Koch said efforts were underway to provide more beds and other medical devices, including respirators to Ticino.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Alain Berset, whose portfolio includes health matters, has pledged to provide financial support to the Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland.
Following talks with the cantonal authorities, Berset said the government was discussing a package of measures to support the different sectors of the local economy, granting access to special funds.
He said the restrictions, notably the closure of restaurants, bars and shops selling non-essential goods, will have a serious impact.
The army also deployed medical personnel in Ticino to provide logistical support for hospitals.
Ticino’s economy, which relies on more than 60,000 cross-border workers, is a popular tourist destination.