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    Belgian GPs postpone all planned non-urgent care

    The postponement allows maximum capacity to be freed up for phone calls of people who are potentially infected with the coronavirus. Credit: Belga

    All general practitioners in Belgium have to postpone all planned non-urgent care because of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

    The postponement allows maximum capacity to be freed up for phone calls of people who are potentially infected with the coronavirus, according to Domus Medica, the general practitioners’ association.

    By the end of the week, the association expects a significant increase in the number of consultations, said the association’s chairman, Roel van Giel, in a statement on its website.

    On Monday evening, the federal government decided to implement the emergency plan for general practitioners, meaning that, in addition to setting up physical triage points, all general practitioners will also have to postpone non-urgent care.

    “The roll-out of this emergency plan has an impact at all levels: organisational, family and financial. Domus Medica is therefore in constant consultation with the government and other doctors’ organisations to find a solution for all these aspects,” the association said.

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    The Belgian Association of Physicians’ Syndicates (ABSyM) is seeing an increase in the number of telephone consultations, mainly for people between 20 and 55 years old. “They are also the most socially integrated. We only hear older people sporadically,” said Jos Vanhoof of the association to Het Nieuwsblad.

    GPs use telephone questions to check whether a patient has mild or severe symptoms. If a clinical examination is necessary, the patients are referred to the triage site in front of the hospital, where a distinction is made.

    “Medicine, and by extension the whole of society, is facing one of the greatest challenges since World War II. The situation is very serious. General practitioners are an essential link in this, which is why these measures are necessary,” said Van Giel.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times