Starting from today/Monday, Brussels can transfer coronavirus patients to hospitals in Flanders or Wallonia to take the increasing pressure off the Capital-Region's intensive care units.
Currently, almost 40% of Belgium's coronavirus patients in intensive care are admitted to Brussels hospitals.
The General Municipal Hospital in the city of Aalst, in the East Flanders province, has already admitted four patients from Brussels, according to patient care director Sabine Siau.
"The intention is to count on the solidarity between hospitals to ensure a good distribution, and within Flanders, there is even more available bed capacity," she said on Flemish radio on Monday morning.
"The advantage is that this way we can offer a better quality of care, but we will not overburden our care staff either," she added.
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Additionally, the Aalst hospital is still expecting a general increase in the number of Covid patients across the country, as a result of returning travellers at the end of the holiday period and the schools opening their doors again.
On top of that, Siau stressed that the patients who still end up in hospital from Covid-19 now are, in most cases, non-vaccinated people.
According to Kenneth Coenye, a head doctor at the Sint-Jan hospital in Brussels, "in intensive care, no one has been vaccinated," which leads to "enormously distressing" situations that "should never have happened."
The permission for the transfers was granted by the Public Health Department, following a request by the region’s hospitals, said Philippe Peetrons, head doctor at the Brussels Iris-Sud Hospitals on Saturday.
"We made the request because many intensive care units in Brussels are overburdened," Peetrons said. "The situation is better in the other provinces. According to the latest data available, there are about 80 hospitals there with practically no patients in intensive care units."
Earlier last week, the Hospital & Transport Surge Capacity Committee already stressed the need for solidarity between Belgian hospitals, as "after almost two years of Covid-19, the healthcare staff are at the end of their tether."
Brussels hospitals are the victim of the low vaccination rate of the Region's population, he said, urging the spread of patients as hospitals prepare for a new wave of infections when the summer holidays end.