Healthcare authorities in Macedonia are begin to sound the alarm about the availability of hospital beds, as coronavirus cases continue to spike. There are over 7,000 active cases – twice the number the healthcare system was handling as recently as three weeks ago.

Of those who require hospitalization, the numbers are also dismal – 138 patients are treated in the capital Skopje, in the two hospitals best equipped to treat Covid-19. One of them has been operating at capacity for a while. In cities across the country, often poorly equipped general hospitals have nearly 400 patients – again twice the number compared to last month. With the clinics in Skpje pushed to te brink, these smaller hospitals are delaying the transfer of their patients to the capital.

Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce said that he is arranging for transfers from the hardest pressed local hospitals, like Strumica and Stip, into near-by towns who have fewer cases like Kocani. “In Strumica we are looking into preparing the new wing of the hospital, and make it operational in a few days. There is tremendous pressure”, Filipce said during a visit to the hospital.

In Skopje, the overflowing patients will be forwarded into the Kozle children’s hospital, as well as to remaining wards in the “8th of September” hospital, which already treats over 50 of the most severe cases, including all patients put on mechanical ventilation. Filipce also said that he is looking into having patients sent abroad for treatment.