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    Lockdown: Wallonia to allow nursing home visits again

    Credit: Belga

    Residents of nursing and retirement homes in Wallonia will be able to receive visitors again providing certain measures are followed, the Walloon government announced on Tuesday.

    Under new government priorities – the organisation of the establishment’s services, and respect for residents’ wishes – a set of new guidelines have been created in consultation with representatives of the elderly and workers. 

    Strict hygiene guidelines will have to be followed and any visitor who does not comply with the guidelines will be refused entry to the facility.

    Additionally, visits cannot be imposed on residents. Allowing relatives to visit again must not cause a disruption of services, nor a diversion of human resources essential for the care of residents, the circular said.

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    Moreover, such visits can only take place after residents and staff have gone through a general screening process, results have been analysed, and any necessary measures depending on the results have been implemented, according to the circular.

    Many people currently being hospitalised for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) are coming from residential care centres, virologist Steven Van Gucht said on Monday. The rise of the average age of patients being hospitalised possibly “has to do with the fact that there are actually two parallel epidemics going on right now,” he said, specifying that he meant “one in the general population, and one in the specific setting of the residential care centres.”

    Visits to nursing homes have been banned since 13 March as part of the Belgian government’s far-reaching measures in the fight against coronavirus. Belgium will slowly ease measures back as it starts to phase out of its lockdown on 4 May. A circular regarding the practical details of the visits has been published and sent to Wallonia’s 602 nursing and retirement homes.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times