Belgian doctors with coronavirus are asked to keep working in Belgium

Belgian doctors with coronavirus are asked to keep working as the number of infections surges

  • Medical staff in hard-hit Liege are being asked to work if they’re asymptomatic 
  • ICU doctor in Liege said it’s the only option to stop the health system collapsing  
  • Last week health minister said Belgium faces a ‘tsunami’ of new Covid cases
  • Belgium reported over 15,000 new cases yesterday and 73 new deaths  

Doctors in Belgium infected with coronavirus are being asked to keep working as the number of cases surge. 

At least 10 hospitals in the hardest-hit city of Liege are asking infected medical staff who are asymptomatic to continue working. Around one quarter of doctors and nurses are thought to be infected with the virus in the city, the Independent reported.  

‘The situation is catastrophic,’ Dr Philippe Devos, an intensive care doctor at the CHC Montlégia Hospital in Liège, told the Washington Post.  

‘Liege is now is probably the most affected region in the world. We have a lot of doctors and nurses affected. 

‘But, starting this week, positive cases were asked to go back to work if they are asymptomatic.’ 

Medical staff work in the intensive care ward for COVID-19 patients at the CHR Citadelle hospital in Liege, Belgium, 21 October 2020

Dr Devos, who is head of the Belgian Association of Medical Unions, said that though there is a risk of transmission, it’s the city’s only option to prevent the hospital system from collapsing ‘within days’.   

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke last week said Belgium could face a ‘tsunami’ of new cases. 

‘We are really very close to a tsunami,’ Mr Vandenbroucke told broadcaster RTL. ‘We no longer control what is happening.’  

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the situation in the country is more serious than it was in March, when the country implemented a national lockdown. 

‘We have three times as many people in intensive care in hospitals. So the situation in the hospitals is serious. It will continue to deteriorate,’ De Croo told RTL. 

Belgian authorities warned yesterday that the country faces a pivotal week in its struggle to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as a series of new restrictions took effect in one of the European countries hardest hit by the pandemic. 

Medical staff transfer a COVID-19 patient, due to the lack of room, from the CHR Citadelle hospital in Liege, Belgium, 21 October, 2020

Almost 12,500 new cases are being reported on average every 24 hours, figures released Monday for the week from October 16-22 showed, compared to around 5,000 a day two weeks ago. 

About one person in every five who is tested turns out to be positive. The very elderly are hardest hit.

On average over the last week, 42 people died from the virus each day, bringing the death toll to 10,810 in a country with a population of around 11.5 million people.

Pressure is building on Belgium’s hospitals, where 467 people are being admitted on average each day, a rise of 85 per cent. 

Almost 5,000 people are currently in hospitals, more than 750 of them in intensive care, according to the latest data. 

Belgium reported over 15,000 new daily infections yesterday, taking its total cases to 321,000. Seventy-three people died in the same time period, taking total fatalities to 10,810. 

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