A visit from Sinterklaas to a Belgian nursing home has resulted in 118 new coronavirus infections, according to the latest figures reported by local media.
At present, 98 residents and 20 staff members are infected following a visit to the centre in Mol, Antwerp, GVA reports.
First reported at the weekend, the incident came to light after the son of a resident dressed up as Sinterklaas to pay a visit to the home and cheer up the residents. Days later the man became unwell and tested positive for Covid-19.
While first reports said 45 people had been infected, all residents and staff were then tested to discover the full extent of the outbreak, with numbers continuing to grow this week.
According to the municipal crisis cell, activities like a visit from Sinterklaas were forbidden, and the company that runs the home, Armonea, failed to inform the crisis cell that the activity was taking place.
“If they had, we would have given a negative response,” said Mol mayor Wim Caeyers (CD&V). The municipality has described the incident as an error of judgement on the part of the home management.
The management of the home said the visit only took place in common areas of the home, and did not involve the private rooms of the residents. The man remained at a safe distance from residents and was masked throughout the visit, as were the residents. No packages were handed out.
However the VRT reports that in a photo of the event, it can clearly be seen that while the visitors were wearing masks, the residents of the home were not.
“We received incorrect information from the management,” the municipality said. “We deeply regret that. After looking at several photos, we have to conclude that this goes much further than an error of judgement. Rather, this is a case of totally irresponsible management.”
“It makes no sense to condemn people,” said Jannes Verheyen, spokesperson for Armonea. “The team is very shocked by what happened, but that also makes them very motivated to get the virus out again.”
The Brussels Times