Hospitals can deploy staff with Covid-19 ‘in very exceptional cases’, Sciensano says
Wednesday, 28 October 2020
Health workers who test positive for coronavirus but are asymptomatic can be asked to work “in very exceptional cases” and only if all other measures have already been taken to deal with staff shortages, Sciensano said Wednesday.
The announcement is part of an update on the procedure for hospitals. It comes as hospitalisations in Belgium continue to increase. Belgium is expected to reach maximum capacity for patients in the intensive care unit by 6 November if the current rise continues.
Several conditions must be met to allow the deployment of infected workers, Sciensano said.
First of all, they can only be deployed for the care of coronavirus patients in a Covid-19 unit, and this exception can only be invoked for staff needed to guarantee a minimum of basic care. The measure does not concern support staff, such as cleaning and cooking staff.
Second, the decision must be taken in consultation with the management and the hospital’s hygiene service.
Infected staff members should also avoid contact with other people and other staff by using different entrances, changing rooms and break areas.
However, they are not obliged to work during their period of isolation, Sciensano adds.
Asymptomatic infected staff can also not work if their test result shows a high viral load, if they tested positive with a rapid antigen test or if they feel anxious about having to work in this context, according to the update.
There are currently 5,554 coronavirus patients in hospital, nearing the peak of 5,759 patients in April. Of those in hospital, there are currently 911 in the intensive care unit, and 483 patients are on a ventilator, according to the latest figures provided by Sciensano.