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Belgium's Covid-19 Collapse in 10 days

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Tabitha111 View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 01 2020 at 11:19am

Belgium’s COVID-19 health care collapse: ‘It will happen in 10 days’

On October 29, Belgium recorded its highest daily infection number on record: more than 20,000. 

The epicenter is Liege, where surrounding boroughs have seen more than 10% of the population infected.

 DW spoke with Philippe Devos, the president of Belgium’s association of medical unions, who works as an intensivist in the critical care unit at the CHC Montlegia hospital.

DW: Dr. Devos, how many people have COVID-19 at CHC Montlegia?

Devos: Around 250.

And how many doctors are in there treating them?

More than 100. We have to do shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And how many of those doctors have the coronavirus right now?

We have around 10% of doctors and nurses that are symptomatic, and they’re at home, sick. At other hospitals in Liege, we have around 25% of doctors and nurses who are symptomatic. So we are lucky in my hospital compared to the other ones in the city. And for this reason, we are forced to use asymptomatic doctors and nurses in the COVID-19 wards.

So you have doctors, right now, in hospitals here in Liege, who are working — even though they have the coronavirus?

Yes, they are infected, but not sick. So they don’t have COVID-19 disease. They are like you and me, asymptomatic. But we don’t have any solution anymore. We are forced to ask them to work, if they agree, only in COVID-19 wards in order not to infect other patients. And it’s now the rule in the whole country. The ministry of health passed this rule yesterday.

So even though these doctors and nurses are asymptomatic, doesn’t that mean they can increase the viral load of the patients they’re caring for?

Actually, they’re authorized to work only if their own viral load is low. So they must be asymptomatic with a low viral load. This means that they cannot increase the viral load of a patient.

Are you sure about that? What is the risk if I’m a patient with COVID-19 and my doctor or nurse comes in to treat me, and even though they’re asymptomatic, they’re breathing out virus (maybe through their mask somehow). Couldn’t I get more of a viral load that way?

So we are not silly. They are using FFP2 masks, and they know how to wear them to not let the virus get out. So they use protection everywhere they go in the hospital. And when they have to remove their mask for eating, for example, they have to do it in a specific room that is washed every hour – to not disseminate their own virus. The only other solution is not to admit a patient into the hospital. They are forced to choose between dying, or being treated by a “positive” doctor. All the patients are choosing not to die.

'A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.'

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