Belgian hospitals will not be asked to reserve a quarter of their intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients from tomorrow (Wednesday) after all, the health authorities decided.
While the Hospital Transport Surge Capacity Committee (HTSC) decided that 25% of ICU beds should be freed up for Covid patients last week, it now reversed that decision, the Federal Public Health Service confirmed to the Belga news agency.
"We have been monitoring the situation and today it appears that the increase we thought we would see last week has not come," Marcel Van Der Auwera, head of department at the FPS Public Health, told De Standaard.
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"The figures are stable at the moment. The hospital admissions are even decreasing slightly," he added. "So that is a completely different picture than what we expected."
Last week's decision angered several hospitals and doctors in the country, especially in the areas where the vaccination coverage is relatively high, as it would lead to delayed care for vaccinated patients.
They argued that it was unnecessary to keep 500 of the 2,000 available ICU beds free while 'only' about 200 Covid-19 patients in Belgium needed intensive care.
The hospitals are still catching up on the care that had to be postponed during previous coronavirus waves, and feared that this catch-up would have to be postponed again.
However, that will not be the case after all.
"In view of the rather stable trend [of hospital admissions] compared to last week and the very difficult to predict the epidemiological situation, the HTSC is of the opinion that a generic upscaling to phase 1A should be temporarily suspended," the experts wrote in a letter.