Swiss TPH Doctors Support the University Hospital Basel in Fight against COVID-19


During the corona crisis, the University Hospital Basel has converted the Prediger church into a Corona Test Centre where every day, hundreds of people are tested for the corona virus. To support these efforts, physicians from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) have temporarily joined the hospital's medical team.

The Prediger church next to the University Hospital of Basel has been transformed into a Corona Test Centre. (Photo: Swiss TPH)

The rush to the Prediger church, just next to the University Hospital of Basel (USB), is considerable: hundreds of people are tested daily for the new lung disease COVID-19. The Corona Test Centre was initiatied by Roland Bingisser, Head of the Emergency Center and Manuel Battegay, Head of Infectiology at USB. Since three weeks, six doctors from Swiss TPH have also joined the team at the test centre in the fight against the corona pandemic.

"It was clear to us early on that we wanted to help," said Daniel Paris, Head of the Department of Medicine at Swiss TPH. "In this extraordinary situation, we do not only need machines; we need well-trained specialists who work in solidarity for the safety and well-being of all patients."

Two Swiss TPH physicians, Esther Künzli and Andreas Neumayr, who typically consult travellers at the Swiss TPH Travel Clinic or treat them when they return ill from the tropics, are working several times a week from 4 p.m. to midnight at the Prediger church. They test patients for the virus to find out who needs further care in an emergency or dedicated COVID-19 ward, or who can safely return home.

"In doing so, we have to be careful not to miss out on other cases of illness, such as heart attacks or pulmonary embolisms. That means diseases that actually have nothing to do with the corona virus," said Andreas Neumayr. Fortunately, only a small number of the patients tested for COVID-19 need to be hospitalised.

The excellent coordination and communication as well as the collegiality among the medical staff facilitate the work of the Swiss TPH physicians. "The motivation of the medical staff is very high," said Esther Künzli.

For now, there is still enough capacity at the Prediger church. "We are prepared to perform up to 700 tests per day," confirmed Roland Bingisser. "This is in case the infection rate might rise again after (partial) suspension of the federal measures. Broad testing is extremely important in order to detect a critical increase early on. Who coughs, must be tested!"

Daniel Paris is convinced that this harmonious cooperation between Swiss TPH and USB will be maintained in the future. "Only together can high-quality, translational medicine be implemented for the well-being of patients, locally, nationally and internationally," emphasised Paris.