The government's risk management group (RMG) has called on all general hospitals in Belgium to step into the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
All general hospitals in the country were urged to take steps towards increasing their treatment capacities "in order to be ready to provide treatment to new or existing Covid-19 [coronavirus] patients," the Belga news agency reports.
The news comes after the RMG asked six university hospitals last week to prepare to treat patients infected with the virus.
The RMG is a body with the federal public health service tasked with assessing and implementing measures necessary to protect public health and advising the interior ministry when it comes to health-related crises.
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Its request to hospitals comes after it drafted an "augmented capacity plan" which aimed to put in place a "coordinated, adequate and efficient organisation" for Belgian hospitals to treat patients affected by the outbreak.
Under the new plan, authorities will also entrust the transport of Covid-19 patients to and from hospitals to a limited number of emergency services per province.
The plan is a step-up from health authorities' previous response to the outbreak, which saw the bulk of the care entrusted to Brussels' Saint-Pierre hospital and Antwerp's UZ University Hospital, which are equipped with the most efficient infrastructure to fight highly-contagious outbreaks.
The plan coincides with a decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to class the outbreak as a pandemic, in an announcement which saw the leader of the globe's top health authority express concern over the "alarming" levels of inaction to contain the virus' spread.
Health authorities in Belgium said that they could not rule out that certain hospitals could become saturated, and recommended that a number of measures, including postponing non-urgent medical procedures be implemented in order to face the surge in demand.
Responding to the call to university hospitals, the UZ Leuven on Tuesday said it would postpone non-urgent procedures and that it was ready to offer beds to coronavirus patients in a delicate condition.
The Brussels Times