STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Belgium’s hospitals won’t be taking in COVID-19 from abroad for the time being

The office of the Federal Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (Francophone liberal) has told the daily ‘De Tijd’ that for the time being at least Belgian hospital won’t be taking in COVID-19 patients from other European countries. Belgium had received request from the authorities in Italy and The Netherlands for patients from these countries to be brought here for treatment. However, these requests have been turned down. 

With health systems under strain in a number of European countries due to the scale of the influx of COVID-19 patients in their hospitals there are growing calls for solidarity between European countries to help cope with the crisis. Germany has already agreed to take in a limited number of patients from Italy where some hospitals are at breaking point.

The German government has also offered help to France where hospital in the East of the country are struggling to cope. Luxembourg and Switzerland are also helping the French.

Meanwhile, Belgium has turned down requests by the Dutch and Italian authorities for some of their COVID-19 patients to be given treatment here.

"As long as the epidemic has not reached its peak here, our hospitals will be reserved for people that are resident in Belgium”, a source close to the government told De Tijd on Thursday. This has since been confirmed by the Federal Prime Minister’s office.

Although the Belgian health system has not reached saturation point “We currently cannot accept patients from abroad. It would be difficult to explain if at some point we had a shortage of beds because we had accepted requests from abroad”, the source told the paper.  

However, if the epidemic peaked in Belgium ahead of other countries it is possible that some foreign patients could be accepted at some point in the future.