Belgium's decision to allow one visitor for people living in residential care centres is "totally irresponsible" in light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), said the umbrella organisation of roughly 300 Flemish centres Zorgnet-Icuro.
Residents are allowed only one visitor, who must be registered in advance, provided that this person has had no symptoms of illness in the last 2 weeks.
The relaxed rule applies to all residential care centres, so not only nursing homes, but is also valid for institutions for people with disabilities, or for those living alone and those who are immobile, Wilmès added.
"We are going to advise our residential care centres to not follow this guideline," said Margot Cloet, managing director of the umbrella organisation Zorgnet-Icuro, to VRT. "This has definitely not been decided at the request of the residential care centres. We were not involved in any consultation about it," she added.
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"For me, it's totally incomprehensible that this has been decided. We are trying to keep the coronavirus out of residential care centres as much as possible. There have been tests on our staff showing that some of them are carriers of the virus without showing any symptoms," Cloet added.
"Now the Security Council wants to let extra people into residential care centres? Who's going to check that?" Cloet asked. "How are we going to guarantee the safety of our residents? That's a mystery to me. I understand it's difficult for some residents to sit alone, but this contradicts all the measures we had in mind," she added.
"Together with the residential care centres, we will have to consider how we are going to do that," said Flemish Minister of Welfare and Public Health Wouter Beke, who is responsible for nursing homes in Flanders, adding that it would not be an easy task.
Zoals ik net ook in journaal @vrtnws zei: bezoek aan woonzorgcentra en andere voorzieningen moet heel doordacht gebeuren. Laat ons daarom die beslissing uitstellen en goed voorbereiden. In overleg. Te belangrijk om snel-snel te doen.— Wouter Beke (@wbeke) April 15, 2020
Translation: "As I just said in at VRT NWS: visiting residential care centres and other facilities must be done very carefully. So let's postpone that decision and prepare well. In consultation. Too important to rush it."
The Brussels Times