Hospitals stress that non-COVID-19 patients should definitely still go to A&E if they need help

Flemish hospitals are keen to stress that despite the COVID-19 crisis patients suffering from other medial issues that require urgent assistance should not hesitate to go to A&E. Accident and Emergency Units at hospitals in Flanders and the rest of Belgium are exceptionally quiet at the moment. This is a cause of concern for the doctors and others that staff them. 

Dr Erik Debing is a surgeon specialised in cardo-vascular disease at Brussels University Hospital in Jette. He told VRT News that “We normally see 60 patients with a heart condition every week. Last week there were just 12”.

It is the same story when we look at the number of patients going to A&E with appendicitis. Normally we have two or three a day, this is now down to just three a week”.  

Doctors are concerned that patients are ignoring symptoms for longer out of fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 while in hospital. Ignoring symptoms such as palpitations, severe stomach pain and back pain risks irreversible damage or even death.

Dr Debing added that "I fear that it this fear also remains after the lockdown is over we will see more fatalities among the non-COVID patient population that among COVID patients. This can’t be our intention”.

Dr Debing concluded with a reassurance that the chance of becoming infected at A&E or on a non-COVID ward is almost zero.