Doctors and nurses have shown their anger at the Belgian government’s coronavirus response by turning their backs on the prime minister’s visit to their hospital.
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes made unofficial visits to two hospitals in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Saturday, and was met at one with a particularly frosty reception.
Footage of her car arriving at Saint-Pierre Hospital in the Marollen neighbourhood showed dozens of staff members lining the route to the entrance of the facility – but with their backs turned to the motorcade.
It comes in response to the signing into law of a royal decree that allows for unqualified staff to undertake nursing duties amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to local media.
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Earlier this month, the General Union of Nurses in Belgium said the decree amounted to “a real slap in the face” for health professions, adding that it undermined the work taken on during the crisis.
It further said the decree came at a time when the Belgian health sector was “collapsing” and did “not feel heard, recognised and valued”.
Ms Wilmes said on Saturday that she wanted to bring a “message of appeasement” to hospital staff, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, adding that she did not want to see a post-coronavirus period where the nursing sector was “reduced to what it was before”.
Belgium is one of Europe’s hardest hit nations by COVID-19, having recorded 54,989 infections to its population of 11.5 million.
A total of 9,005 people in Belgium have died with the disease.
The country has been under lockdown for the last two months to bring the virus under control, but is due to partially open schools, markets, museums and zoos from Monday.
Source : Sky News