Half of residents in some nursing homes infected with Covid-19

Summary

An initial 20,000 tests have been sent to the region’s care homes, with those testing positive being isolated in groups away from other residents and staff

More tests on the way

The first staff and residents at some of the 800 care homes in Flanders have been tested for Covid-19, as the country works to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Beginning with the most vulnerable groups, the aim is to test all care home residents and staff.

Early results reported by VRT show some centres with no infections, while others have seen 50% of residents infected. Half of the 60 residents as well as 10 members of staff at the Orelia Serrenhof home in Sint-Truiden, Limburg, have tested positive, for example, while at Sint-Bavo in Wilrijk, Antwerp province, 60 of the 120 residents have tested positive.

At Orelia Serrenhof, the vast majority of those who tested positive had shown no symptoms, spokesperson Caroline Vercauteren said. “We had really not expected that,” she said. Those confirmed to be infected have been moved to a separate floor of the home and will be looked after by a separate team, she said. Their families have been informed.

This means they don’t need to stay in their rooms in order to be isolated from others and can move around freely without running the risk of infecting residents who have tested negative.

No residents infected

A further two homes in Antwerp province and Flemish Brabant report that all their residents have tested negative. So far, 20,000 testing kits have been distributed and about half have been implemented and sent to labs for analysis.

Care homes that have received the kits will get results this week if they have not already done so, according to Karine Moykens, head of the taskforce tackling the coronavirus crisis in care settings. A second phase will then begin, she told VRT’s Het Journal, focusing on centres for less vulnerable people. The process is expected to take up to four weeks.

At the time of writing, Belgium had recorded almost 4,000 deaths from coronavirus, with 43% of those being residents of care homes. Those who die in care homes are included in the total number of deaths, though infection is not confirmed and may not necessarily have been the leading cause of death, according to the country’s crisis centre.

Photo: Belga/Dirk Waem