In Liege, — Belgium’s third-largest city and a coronavirus hotspot, — health workers in some hospitals have been asked to continue working even if they test positive for Covid-19 as long as they are asymptomatic.
According to the national public health institute Sciensano, Belgium has reported on average more than 13,000 cases a day in the past week. The Covid-19 outbreak in the country is the second-worst in Europe in terms of new cases per capita, after only the Czech Republic.
Yves Van Laethem, Belgium’s spokesperson for the fight against Covid-19, warned that unless Belgians change their behavior, intensive care units will reach their capacity of 2,000 patients in 2 weeks.
Liege, the largest city in the French-speaking Wallonia region, has the highest incidence rate in Belgium.
Louis Maraite, the communications director of Liege University Hospital said in a CNN report that because of staff shortages, the hospital had “no choice” but to ask asymptomatic nurses who tested positive to work on a voluntary basis.
“Doctors are not concerned by these measures as they have no shortages of doctors,” Maraite said. “This is not a problem as they are working in coronavirus units with patients who also tested positive.”
Maraite estimated that 5% to 10% of nurses at the hospital were currently infected with coronavirus, but most of them are off work at home.
Health workers who show symptoms of the virus, such as fever, have been asked not to report to work, and Maraite added the hospital could not force asymptomatic health workers to show up.