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Antwerp nursing home hit by new coronavirus outbreak

© Belga

A nursing home in the province of Antwerp has been hit by a second outbreak of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) with dozens of staff and residents testing positive for the virus.

Within the home, located in the town of Oud-Turnhout near the Dutch border, 35 residents have tested positive for the virus, one of whom is hospitalised.

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Out of the residence’s total workforce of 112 employees, managing company Armonea said that 25 had tested positive for the virus, Le Soir reports.

The new cluster marks the second time the same nursing home is hit by an outbreak of the virus, after having previously reported 19 cases.

Since the start of the pandemic, nine residents of the nursing home who had tested positive for the virus have died, with Armonea saying that it was “not certain” that they had died from the virus.

“Until recently, residents were only tested if they presented symptoms, but since 20 May, following government directives, we have launched a vast testing program,” Aromonea said.

The company, which runs nearly 100 nursing homes in Belgium, said that the new outbreak in Oud-Turnhout nursing home had not yet resulted in staff shortages.

The new outbreak comes as Flemish health authorities said that nursing homes could begin allowing visits again from 18 May, amid wider lockdown relaxations decided by the National Security Council.

The alarming rates of mortality in nursing homes throughout the pandemic has sparked criticism from government experts, who have pointed out that some elderly patients counted as Covid-19 deaths may have died from something else.

But comparisons drawn between the current excess in mortality — or number of deaths occurring throughout a given time — have federal public health officials to argue that Belgium’s coronavirus death count is accurate.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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