2. Ensuring sufficient physical infrastructure and workforce capacity
ENSURING SUFFICIENT PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND WORKFORCE CAPACITY is crucial for dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, as there may be both a surge in demand and a decreased availability of health workers. The section considers the physical infrastructure available in a country and where there are shortages, it describes any measures being implemented or planned to address them. It also considers the health workforce, including what countries are doing to maintain or enhance capacity, the responsibilities and skill-mix of the workforce, and any initiatives to train or otherwise support health workers.
2.1 Physical infrastructure
In the initial stage of COVID-19 outbreak the Emergency Medical Service teams have been the most important resource, providing testing of suspected cases and taking the patient to the hospital if necessary. Suspected COVID-19 patients are brought to the Latvian Center for Infectology (at the Eastern University Hospital in Riga), Children's Clinical University Hospital or one of six regional hospitals: North Kurzeme Regional Hospital in Ventspils, Liepaja Regional Hospital, Vidzeme Hospital, Daugavpils Regional Hospital or Rezekne Hospital.
Hospitals at both national and regional level have received additional training, protective clothing, goggles and respirators for staff in the event of a need to receive, isolate and treat patients with COVID-19. Inside the hospital, visuals are posted to inform people what to do if they suspect COVID-19.
As stated in the National Disaster Management Plan, the Emergency Medical Service is constantly identifying national capacities and resources, and is constantly updating and maintaining a specific database of hospital beds, thus also preparing for hospital capacity in the event of a pandemic. As of March 28, 2020, approximately 1,000 hospital beds are available in Latvia for the placement of COVID-19 patients. Other physical resources, such as labs and tests, medical equipment (e.g. ventilators), pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and IT are available.
Shortage of protective equipment (e.g. masks) has been documented so far. Measures to mitigate shortages include: re-orienting existing resources including hospital beds and departments to manage COVID-19 patients, using medical equipment from the private sector, stockpiling and procuring additional protective equipment and pharmaceuticals.
To deal with the shortage in protective masks, The National Health Service has organized a special cargo delivery with the procured 900,000 face masks and 80,000 respirators carried by the national airline AirBaltic, which arrived on March 29,2020.
The Ministry of Defence has been appointed as responsible for the purchase and transport of personal protective equipment and disinfectants, with an allocation of EUR 45.7 million for this purpose (as of April 28).