From now on, Belgian hospitals can send coronavirus patients to hospitals in Germany if necessary, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told the House on Thursday.
Vandenbroucke made arrangements about the possible transfer of patients with his German federal colleague Jens Spahn, as well as with the German regions closest to Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.
"I am very pleased with the spontaneous and very generous attitude of our German colleagues," Vandenbroucke said, adding that they immediately offered to take patients from Belgium if they had places available.
"A fine example of self-evident European solidarity," Vandenbroucke said, who said that Belgian hospitals should make use of the offer. "It is simply about making efficient use of our hospital capacity. In Germany, there are a lot of intensive care beds."
Shortly after Vandenbroucke's announcement, at least two Belgian patients were already transferred to Germany, according to a correspondent of the German ZDF.
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However, it would not concern large groups of patients. "These are delicate decisions, that should be considered at a patient-by-patient basis," he added.
In the meantime, Belgian hospitals are moving into the final phase of their nationwide coronavirus hospital response plan.
On Thursday morning, national health institute Sciensano announced that a total of 5,924 coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital, which is about 200 more than the total of 5,759 Covid-19 patients who were in hospital during the peak in April.
In a last-minute change, Belgium’s Hospital & Transport Surge Capacity body ordered hospitals to skip over Phase 2A and move straight into Phase 2B by Monday 2 November, which will require hospitals to create 500 new intensive care beds and 300 beds for intensive oxygen therapy and to cancel more non-urgent procedures and consultations.
“It is pitiful to see history repeating itself,” Marc Noppen, CEO of UZ Brussel university hospital, said in a press release, adding: “but the influx of Covid-19 patients leaves us with no choice.”
The Brussels Times