Homes for the elderly hard hit by coronavirus deaths

Care homes for the elderly are shut to the outside world to protect their vulnerable residents, but if coronavirus gets in, it spreads fast. Keystone

Elderly people and staff in nursing homes are being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, write Sunday newspapers.

This content was published on April 5, 2020 - 14:50

In the western French-speaking cantons of Switzerland, an average one third of people who have died after catching the coronavirus were residents of nursing homes for the elderly (EMS), report Le Matin Dimanche and its sister newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

However, not all cantons are affected in the same way. Residents of homes for the elderly account for almost half the victims in the cantons of Vaud (60 out of 123 deaths) and Neuchâtel (11 out of 23 deaths), while in Geneva they represent about a fifth of the deaths (19 out of 45). In the canton of Bern, this rate is around 10% (3 out of 28 deaths).

More and more people are becoming infected in these homes, write the two newspapers. In the canton of Geneva, 22 out of 54 homes are already reporting infected residents. In Bern, 20 of the 67 residents and 9 employees of one nursing home alone have become infected.

Because the sick and elderly are the most vulnerable, these homes are shut to the outside world to protect the residents, but once there is infection it spreads fast, writes Le Matin Dimanche. The confined residents find the situation very hard and often do not follow the rules, while staff often lack proper protective gear. Some staff have been trying to protect themselves with plastic bags and ski goggles, while masks are often re-used instead of being thrown away.

Proper protective clothing is vital since nursing staff work in close contact with residents to wash, feed, move and care for them. Stocks of this gear now seem to be improving, Le Matin writes.

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