A family doctor who refused to wear a face mask has been responsible for infecting at least 100 of his patients with Covid-19, local authorities claim.
The municipal authorities in Kruisem in East Flanders called in the medical expert for the Flemish Ardennes area last week, to set up a new testing centre when the number of infections detected suddenly shot up.
On further investigation, it emerged that a large number of the new cases were patients of the same doctor, a 68-year-old GP named only as Leon G. He himself tested positive a week ago, and is known to have carried out a number of consultations without taking the necessary hygiene precautions.
According to patients, the doctor refused to wear a face mask, or wore one wrongly.
“It is incomprehensible and downright scandalous that a GP can be so careless,” commented Dr. Farah Vansteenbrugge, medical expert together with the Flemish Agency for Public Health and the municipal emergency planning coordinator.
“As a doctor you have to be an important role model. Our doctors and nurses are already having such a hard time dealing with this crisis.”
The Flemish association of GPs Domus Medica issued a statement.
“We absolutely want to emphasise that this is an exception and that GPs do everything they can to receive patients at their practice in a safe way. It is safe to come to the doctor’s practice. We ask for people not to postpone care on their own initiative.”
Kruisem is the result of a merger of two former communes, Kruishoutem – home of the country’s only three-star Michelin restaurant, Hof Van Cleve – and Zingem. Mayor Joop Verzele (CD&V told Het Laatste Nieuws, “Not following the face mask directive is incomprehensible and irresponsible in these times,” he said.
“This GP is aware of the facts. Our emergency planning coordinator is closely following the situation together with the Agency for Public Health and the medical expert. We want to call on everyone to strictly follow the safety measures. We cannot afford any carelessness now.”
Dr. G. himself responded. “I’ve been stupid,” he said. “I was only trying to help people.”