15 vaccinated people test positive in Flemish care home outbreak
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15 vaccinated people test positive in Flemish care home outbreak

Credit: Belga

Twelve residents and three care home staff who had already received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine have tested positive for the South African variant of the virus in an outbreak in a residential care home in West Flanders.

A total of 18 people, of which 15 had been fully vaccinated, were infected with the more contagious strain at a residential care home in Wielant in Ingooigem (West Flanders).

“All residents involved in the outbreak were fully vaccinated, and three of the staff members were as well,” Inge Coopman, a staff member at the care home, told The Brussels Times.

Two other staff members from the residential care centre, which has a vaccination rate of 96% among residents and 90% among staff, had not been vaccinated yet, and one was waiting to be administered with a second dose.

“This shows the importance of a high vaccination rate among healthcare providers,” epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme said.

The first cases were registered by chance, as the residents weren’t showing any real symptoms. However, a slight fever was recorded in one of the elderly people, which helped the staff detect the outbreak.

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“On Saturday morning, we received a notification from the Flemish Agency for Care and Health that it was the highly contagious South African variant. To prevent further contamination and to offer our residents the necessary care, we are forced to close the residential care home to all visitors at least until Sunday, 7 March,” director of the care home Inge Coopman said.

All 90 residents will be tested twice a week to monitor further infections.

This outbreak, despite the high vaccination rate, is not a surprise, according to virologist and inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

“People in a residential care home have a very weak immune system,” he said. “There will be other outbreaks, hopefully not too many. But we had expected this,” he told the Belga news agency.

He added that, as long as no one gets seriously ill, the vaccine will protect people.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times