Don't relax lockdown measures yet, Belgian hospitals warn

Don't relax lockdown measures yet, Belgian hospitals warn
Credit: Belga

Belgian hospitals are calling on the Consultative Committee to not relax the current coronavirus measures and "continue doing what we are doing right."

The country is on the right track in combatting the virus, but the road back to regular healthcare will still be "very long and difficult," umbrella organisations Zorgnet-Icuro, Gibbis, Santhea and Unessa said in a joint press release on Friday.

The hospitals are calling on the Consultative Committee not to relax the measures too quickly because - even in the best-case scenario of falling figures - the hospitals are still facing a daunting task in the coming months.

"Or to put it in the words of virologist Steven Van Gucht: 'What we are doing now, we are doing well. It is important to keep it up'," the hospitals said.

"Any other choice means a burden on Belgian hospitals and an increased risk to the public health of the citizens," they added.

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Despite the decreasing coronavirus figures, the pressure on hospitals remains high, and they are still in crisis mode, the healthcare sector stated.

Since the second half of October, regular care has been partially cut off and non-urgent surgeries and treatments have been postponed, which the sector will have to pay the price for in the long run, according to the hospitals.

Infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe also said that it is too early for the relaxations, especially with the Christmas period in mind.

"The hospitals are still crowded, the healthcare sector is hurting, now is not the time to organise parties," she said. "We must now focus on celebrating safely, for example by meeting with family members outside, with the necessary distance."

Shops, however, could possibly open "under very strict conditions," she said. "Surely we are not going to jeopardise the gains we have now made and risk a third wave in January?"

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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