Coronavirus: thousands volunteer as back-up medical staff in Flanders
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Coronavirus: thousands volunteer as back-up medical staff in Flanders

All hospitals in Belgium are now mobilised to treat coronavirus patients. © Belga

Over 2,000 people have responded to calls from the Flemish government to sign up as volunteer medical reserve staff to face the coronavirus pandemic.

Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke said that the response for the public since the appeal was launched at the start of March was “unbelievable.”

Beke said that around 2,550 volunteers had registered as doctors or nurses in a list which is made available to hospitals and other care centres in Flanders.

The call for volunteers was launched in an effort to constitute a back-up force of medical staff, including doctors, paramedics or nurses, to stand ready to assist hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.

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The call on 8 March was initially addressed at retired physicians who would provide administrative support rather than clinical treatment, due to the fact that they belong to a high-risk group.

Ten days after the call was launched, Wouter said that Flanders’ medical reserve now counted with 694 volunteers and that it continued to grow.

An additional call for volunteers with no medical training was also created, in which anyone who is currently in good health and does not belong to a high-risk group, which includes elderly people, people with underlying conditions or those with a compromised immune system, can sign up to volunteer.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times