Swiss army ends ICU patient repatriation missions

About 50% of the repatriations were patients suffering from Covid-19. Keystone/Jean-Christophe Bott

A month-long mission to bring Swiss patients home from intensive care units abroad resulted in 25 repatriations before it was ended again at the beginning of October.

This content was published on October 20, 2021 - 12:31

At the beginning of September, the Swiss army tasked air rescue service Rega with coordinating national repatriations of Swiss residents in intensive care units abroad.

The numbers of such patients in ICUs abroad at the time was very high, the army’s coordinated medical service said at the time. Within a week of taking over the coordination role, Rega reported some 23 repatriation requests.

A month later however, the army confirmed to Swiss public radio SRF, requests became fewer and the situation in ICUs eased, and the national coordination by Rega was officially discontinued on October 5.

During the four weeks of its mission, Rega repatriated 25 Swiss residents, about half of whom were affected by Covid, SRF reported. Most were flown back from Balkan countries and other holiday destinations in the Mediterranean region.

However, even within Switzerland, no more transfers of corona patients are currently necessary or being done, Hans Pargger, head of the intensive care unit at Basel University Hospital, told SRF this week. The Federal Office of Public Health warns nevertheless that the situation in Swiss ICUs remains tense.

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