Spotlight: European countries grapple with medical supply shortage as COVID-19 cases climb
BRUSSELS/ROME, March 25 (Xinhua) -- As the world witnessed over 41,000 cases of COVID-19 and 18,433 fatalities as of Wednesday, four countries in Europe now counted over 20,000 cases each, and they are still struggling to tackle the shortage in medical supplies to fight the pandemic.
In Europe, the new epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Italy, Spain, Germany, France have become the four hardest-hit countries on the continent in terms of COVID-19 cases.
By Wednesday, Italy has registered 74,386 coronavirus cases and 7,503 deaths, while Spain reported 7,937 new cases and 738 new deaths in the past 24 hours by midday Wednesday, raising its tally to 47,610 cases and 3,434 deaths. Spain now registered the world's fourth-most infection cases, after China, Italy and the United States.
To date, France has confirmed 25,233 infection cases, with 1,331 deaths. In Germany, where coronavirus cases now totaled 31,554, death toll was only 149. However, its single-day new cases of 4,118 on Wednesday was quite surprising.
Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported in Switzerland, with death toll reaching 103.
In UK, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 exceeded 9,500 as of Wednesday morning, while fatalities went up to 463. Portugal reported close to 3,000 cases of Wednesday, and 43 deaths.
Estonia reported its first coronavirus death on Wednesday, as total confirmed cases in the country exceeded 400.
In Hungary, where 226 cases have been registered by Wednesday, as well as 10 deaths, construction of a new container hospital in the central part of the country is well underway, and ventilators have already been installed.
In Budapest, a provisional hospital has been set up for 330 people on the premises of the Hungarian fair center Hungexpo.
RESORTING TO NEW TECHNOLOGIES
The coronavirus outbreak in Europe has caught many countries by surprise, and shortage in protective medical supplies such as face masks, gloves, protective gowns and goggles, ventilators is making medical professionals desperate.
China, which is recovering from the COVID-19 blow and slowly getting its manufacturing engine running, is lending a helping hand to many countries either through donations or assistance in procurement.
Engineers and innovators in Europe are coming up with creative ways to alleviate the strain in medical resources.
In Spain, some 100 engineers have started manufacturing 3D printed medical ventilators for COVID-19 patients, to the tune of 50 to 100 a day.
Barcelona Zona Franca Consortium (CZFB) joined forces with Home Electronics News HP, Leitat Technological Center and SEAT auto manufacturer to produce the ventilators which are less complex than those used in intensive care units, allowing a patient to breathe air under constant pressure for three or four days.
Production would be scaled up to up to 300 ventilators a day to help hospitals struggling to provide care to the patients.
In Germany, startup Corevas has expanded the video chat system EmergencyEye to facilitate remote diagnosis by doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, to conserve limited resources and protects people from infections in crowded waiting rooms. Patients only need to have a smartphone, with no need for any special application.
A university hospital in Rome also started to use a new diagnostic tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help quickly diagnose patients with coronavirus. The so-called "Infer-read" system is based on technology developed by a Chinese company called InferVision and adapted for use in Italy.
Businesses are also mobilized to the rescue in Italy. Automobile maker Fiat Chrysler has repurposed one of its factories to produce surgical face masks. Fashion brands including Prada and Gucci are among at least 200 companies that have begun producing surgical gowns and masks. Sports car icon Ferrari is making respirators. More than 60 distilleries that normally make grappa and whiskey are instead using the ethyl alcohol they produce to make disinfectants.
Europe is all out for the "war" on the COVID-19 pandemic.[ Editor: SRQ ]