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    Coronavirus: pharmacies plead for recognition

    Visits to pharmacies are up by 50%. Credit: Belga

    Pharmacies in Belgium deserve more recognition as they put themselves at risk in the fight against the new coronavirus (Covid-19), the Association of Pharmacists of Belgium (APB) said in an official press release.

    “The profession is on the front line and is making considerable efforts to serve the population without any real recognition, particularly from the authorities,” APB’s secretary-general Alain Chaspierre told La Dernière Heure on Friday.

    The pharmacist unions “note with regret that, since the beginning of the crisis, the authorities’ press releases do not mention pharmacists explicitly,” APB stated in the press release. They want “just a little recognition (…) to support the 18,000 people who are resolutely committed on a daily basis against this virus in the pharmacies of this country.”

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    Nearly one in six pharmacies has seen part of its staff infected with coronavirus according to a survey by APB and the Free University of Brussels. 50% of employees have been in contact with a person who has tested positive and continue to work with adequate protection.

    In addition, pharmacies have seen their visitors increase by 50%, and have noticed a rush on paracetamol, hand gels, masks, and the antimalarial drugs plaquenil and chloroquine, according to the survey. The antimalarials are currently being used to treat coronavirus in the absence of a targeted cure.

    “Since doctors have been making remote consultations, the pharmacy has become a place for diagnosis. We have been forced to play police to regulate purchases. People don’t always understand this. And it degenerates one time out of four by verbal or even physical aggression. Which pharmacists don’t normally experience,” he said.

    The pharmacists are now asking for “clear, coherent, transparent and specific information” from authorities as they continue to face the virus.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times