The University Hospital of Munster, Germany, offers medical advice to intensive care doctors in other hospitals by video. With this support, corona intensive care patients could stay longer in smaller hospitals close to their home and would not have to be transferred to university hospitals so quickly, while those beds could be reserved for more severe cases. In the region of Westphalia Lippe alone, more than 200 hospitals could use the telemedicine offer from Munster in cooperation with the University Hospital Aachen. Read more here (in German)
Barcelona is helping the elderly get the information they need on COVID-19 and get answers to their questions on the pandemic. The VinclesBCN Service, already used by 2,400 people aged 65+ to combat loneliness and foster social contacts, adapted to the pandemic by creating a new health channel. The channel is managed by a doctor and nurse, who answer the various questions through text or voice message and feed general health information related to COVID-19 into the different groups in the channel. Although not intended as an emergency phone number, the channel provides official, accurate support to one of the most vulnerable groups affected by COVID-19. Read more here
Ljubljana is offering empty and disinfected rooms in Hostel Celica, run by the Ljubljana Castle public institute, to be used by the University Medical Centre for the accommodation of their staff. The hostel is intended for workers who come to work at UKC Ljubljana from other towns, which means that they no longer need to drive back home every day and that their self-protective measures are made easier.
As public transportation has been temporarily cancelled, many medical workers find the drive to Ljubljana and back home to be very stressful and exhausting. Ljubljana has also opted to provide for all employees of nursing homes who cannot return home every day for various reasons. The nursing homes are now fitted with portable beds which the workers can use when they spend the night in Ljubljana.
Besides three drive-in coronavirus testing stations, the city of Munich is setting up a walk-through testing for medical staff. Doctors, nurses, assistants at hospitals and other health care professionals can easily and quickly reach the station and get the test result within 24 hours via sms. Read more here (in German)
The Ljubljana Health Centre has ensured psycho-social support for anyone potentially struggling with the current epidemiological situation. The support is offered via phone or email. It has also been offered by some non-governmental organisations whose programs are co-financed by the city of Ljubljana.
Dusseldorf is turning to the internet and telephone to education, sport and support. A new hotline for the elderly and other high risk populations is available for getting help and advice. Read more (in German) here. A new e-learning platform provided by the city allows teachers to provide their pupils with learning material and online classes. Read more (in German) here. And the municipal department of sport, which usually offers free outdoor classes in Dusseldorf’s parks, has launched online workouts that people can enjoy from home. Read more (in German) here.
In order to keep up with testing its citizens for coronavirus infections, Dusseldorf has established a drive through testing centre. People can now make appointments via the coronavirus information line and get tested without getting out of their cars. They will be given the results 24 to 36 hours later. This service is provided only for people working in healthcare, in public safety jobs and critical infrastructure. The drive-throughs are supposed to run over 100 tests per day and should relieve Düsseldorf’s diagnostic centre and hospitals. Read more about the drive-through (in German) here.
The diagnostic centre, running alongside the drive-through, was opened in order to relieve the burden of general medical practitioners in the local health system. Appointments for a test are only issued via the coronavirus information line. Read more (in German) here.
The helpline has run 24/7 since the end of February to provide general information on the virus and also coordinate appointments for the testing of possibly infected citizens in the diagnostic centre. Read more (in German) here.
Leipzig will increase its reserve of protective equipment for clinics and administration at the same time as strengthening the local economy. The city has launched a tender for a local or regional producer for equipment like protective masks to meet increased demand.
The healthcare personnel of Madrid Salud, an autonomous body dependent on the Madrid City Council, will be incorporated into the primary care services to carry out home surveillance of people with symptoms of coronavirus. Thus, around thirty health professionals, including doctors, nurses and psychologists, will provide their services from this week. Read more here (in Spanish)
Lille Metropole is supporting local hospitals by supplying barriers and security guards, new signage and food from the reserves of the municipal office’s restaurant. The metropole is also working to promote the production of protective masks for caregivers by local textile companies and independent dressmakers. Read more (in French) here.
Madrid is working with public and private parking providers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among health professionals. Parking providers near hospitals are making free space available to health care professionals so that they can park at a greater distance from each other and reduce the chance of transmitting the coronavirus on their way to work. Find out more here.
In Antwerp a triage system was established to isolate and provide appropriate care to patients infected with the coronavirus. A patient must first contact the GP by telephone. With mild or severe symptoms, the patient is directed to one of five triage points on the city’s territory, where a deeper triage occurs. The triage posts are an initiative of GP associations. However, they do not have enough people to perform all tasks there.
After a survey among its own staff, the city of Antwerp delegated volunteers to support the five triage stations that have been set up in the city’s territory. Hundreds volunteered. In less than two days, 10 coordinators and more than 100 call center, reception and security staff were found, selected, briefed, provided with work equipment and deployed in the triage stations.
Paris is offering services to ensure that those on the front line fighting the spread coronavirus are able to go to work. The city is running child care facilities for the children of health professionals. It is also collaborating with the national level, offering the state skilled personnel, in particular doctors and midwives, who work for the local government.
Paris is also making making space available for doctors whose waiting rooms are too small for appropriate distance to be kept between patients. Read about these and more measures (in French) here. Regular transmissions on Parisian activity around Covid 19 are posted here.
The city of Milan has implemented a range of responses to coronavirus, organised around three levels. Current measures range from the suspension of access restrictions for certain types of vehicles to specific measures for waste collection. For example, the city has invested in disinfecting street containers where waste is collected and in an extra disinfection and sanitation of city streets. Read more here
Last weekend, patients from French hospitals in the Région Grand Est who needed urgent artificial respiration, were transferred to hospitals in Mannheim, Heidelberg, Freiburg and Ulm. The German hospitals provide in station hospital service and most importantly, ventilators. Read more here
Car traffic is banned in the park Bois de la Cambre in Brussels to give more space to visitors and allow a better distance between people, mayor Philippe Close announced. While citizens are asked to stay indoors as much as possible, physical activity outdoors is recommended. For that, it is important to keep a reasonable distance between individuals. Read more here (in French)
The Municipality of Braga will receive 10,000 disposable medical masks and 500 individual protection medical kits from the Chinese city of Shenyang. The two cities have a friendship agreement and want to become twin cities. Shenyang has also offered to share experiences regarding the fight against the corona virus and the management of crisis situations. Read more (in Portuguese)
The Berlin city government will build a new hospital for up to 1,000 coronavirus patients. Other measures being taken include reducing metro services, and updating its crisis response strategy. The updated strategy aims to support people and businesses through offering measures such as tax relief for companies struggling with liquidity, or covering loss of earnings for cancelled events or when staff are quarantined.
Building on good relations with its twinned cities in China, the Porto City Council has secured supplies of new ventilators. In another partnership, with a local company, the City Council has agreed to start immediate production of personal protective masks.
A local company and a network of volunteers are helping the Brussels Capital Region produce at least 100,000 face masks for use mainly in nursing homes, the homeless sector and home help and care services. The masks are subject to quality control measures before being made available to the Brussels government.
Rooms are being offered at hotels and other local accommodation, in coordination with the Porto City Hall, to ensure that medical staff who are concerned for the risk of contagion to their families, have an alternative space to stay.
How prepared for pandemic are different cities globally?
Cities such as Taipei, Singapore and Hangzhou based their response on knowledge gained from dealing with previous epidemics and rapidly put in place measures such as isolation and social distancing, clear communication efforts and proactive surveillance – a difficult prospect for many Western cities.
Authorities in Singapore, for example, acted very quickly to trace back suspected contacts of the first patients, and offer widespread and freely available testing, with capacity to test more than 2,000 people a day. Furthermore, around 5,000 people – mainly close contacts of patients – have been isolated.