More than 600 nursing home residents are suspected to have died in Flanders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities said Tuesday.
Figures collected by Flemish nursing homes since the start of the nationwide lockdown on 18 March show that 619 residents are presumed to have died of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), since not all of them were tested.
The lack of comprehensive testing means that the numbers, reported by Flemish Health Minister Wouke Beke to members of the Flemish parliament, differ from official figures reported nationwide.
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"The difference with Sciensano's numbers is that they only give confirmed cases," Beke said, referring to the federal public health institute tracking the spread of the pandemic across the country. "We can report in a more detailed manner."
Beke also said that out of a total of roughly 8,000 nursing home residents, 2,982 were thought to have caught the virus, with namely two centres reporting infections in over half of residents.
Ten other centres said between 30% to 49% of residents are ill while a total of 19 others reported suspected illness in up to 29% of their residents.
Out of the total 773 homes which reported data to authorities, 382 said nobody was infected.
The numbers also took stock of the situation among staff members, showing that across the region's nursing homes the overall absentee rate due to a Covid-19 infection was of 3.56% , De Standaard reports.
At least two nursing homes were found to have over half of their staff out sick with the virus, while around two dozen others have between 20% to 49% of sick staff.
The new figures come as authorities boost testing efforts among nursing home residents, as several reporting suspected infection clusters and rising absentee rates among staff fearful of passing the virus to the elderly.
On Tuesday, Belgium's death toll swelled as a result of delayed reports of coronavirus deaths from nursing homes in Flanders, which reported 241 deaths that took place between 1 and 4 April.
The Brussels Times