'Things in Brussels are ruined' warns hospital chief

'Things in Brussels are ruined' warns hospital chief
Credit: The Brussels Times/Jules Johnston

Brussels hospitals are struggling under the pressure caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the impact is starting to be seen, according to the head of the intensive care unit at the UZ Brussel.

Despite coronavirus patients occupying fewer beds than they have in previous months, the situation in Brussels is still dire, Elisabeth De Waele told 'De afspraak’ on Monday evening.

"At the moment there are already people with brain tumours who have been rescheduled because we just don't have an intensive bed. We can hardly cope with this any more," De Waele explained.

The 'enormous effort' of hospitals in and around Brussels is still being met with an increase in the number of people in intensive care. "When I got the daily briefing last weekend and saw the figures from the hospitals within our network, I thought: Brussels is ruined. It is really starting to fill up."

According to reports, the number of intensive patients at the UZ Brussel has risen by as much as 260% in a fortnight.

More than 2,300 new people per day tested positive for Covid-19 in Belgium over the past week, according to Tuesday’s figures by the Sciensano public health institute. In total, 937 patients are currently in hospital, which is 71 more than on Monday. Of these patients, 195 are in intensive care, or nine more than yesterday.

It was already clear this summer that the first phases of the distribution plan (phases 0 and 1A) would be the heaviest, according to De Waele. “And that’s where we are now. A time when we have to combine two types of care with the same number of people or in some cases even fewer people. How in God's name are we going to do that?”

“Although, of course, you cannot say: the later the phases, the better, because that just means that we have ended up in a disaster scenario in which we have to drop all other care. Because if you do that, there will be casualties, and we must prevent that from happening,” she added.

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Going forward, the most important thing for Brussels is ensuring people follow the current rules.  "There are so many people doing their best, so many shops, so many restaurants... But if you enter a shop where the situation is not right, you have to talk to those people or the shop has to be closed," said De Waele.

"That's the only way we can keep our freedom for a little longer. In Brussels, it's ruined. We really have to do something."

On Monday the Mayor of Aalst said he would no longer accept new transfers of coronavirus patients from Brussels as authorities of the Flemish city seek to keep enough beds available for local residents.

“There are limits to medical solidarity and I believe that that limit had now been reached,” D’Haese told Flemish media. “I reasonably assume that the basic principle should be that an Aalst patient should be able to go to an Aalst hospital.”

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 132,203. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died as a result of the virus.

Belgium’s reproduction number (Rt) is currently 1.19, according to Sciensano’s figures, meaning that one infected person infects more than one other person on average and that the pandemic is still growing.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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