Belgium “could have avoided most of its deaths” due to Covid

The confusion in the Belgian political system is directly linked to the heavy toll of Covid-19 in the country. Statements by Richard Holton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, come in addition to press reports and a damning report by Amnesty International, denouncing human rights violations in Belgian retirement homes.

This typically Belgian system did not help [la gestion de l’épidémie], he failed in his duty. We could have avoided most of those 14,000 deaths. People have died because of this political system, that must make you think.

Richard Horton

Editor-in-chief of the “Lancet”

The words of Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, questioned on Monday, November 16 by the House of Representatives, did not go unnoticed in Belgium.

Mr. Horton, who was speaking by videoconference to the Commission of Inquiry into the Management of the Health Crisis by the Belgian Authorities, noted errors in “Most European countries”, note The newspapaer. He said in particular:

If the politicians had read our articles in time, we would have understood sooner that we were on the cusp of a pandemic. However, this awareness took place in March, and not when the first articles appeared, that is to say in January. ”

But the British journalist particularly underlined the weakness of the Belgian system, whose federal mille-feuille makes decision-making and communication complicated. Thus, as the Belgian press regularly reminds us, the competences related to health are more or less spread over a total of nine ministers – for a country of 11.5 million inhabitants.

Amnesty denounces human rights violations

In addition to serious shortcomings in the management of masks stocks, attention was focused on the situation of retirement homes. During the first wave of Covid-19, Belgium indeed posted a very high toll in relation to its population and, of the 10,000 or so deaths from this wave, two-thirds were residents of retirement homes.

But it is precisely because the decision chain is not clear that the press struggles to indicate direct responsibility. In a long investigation, The evening has reported unprepared retirement homes, a crucial lack of equipment, but also a lack of attention from the authorities, who focused on the situation of hospitals.

Among the residents who died from Covid-19, the majority spent their last hours in their retirement home, and only 20% in hospital, observes the French-language newspaper. In many cases, when these institutions wanted to hospitalize residents, they encountered refusals. In question, explains The evening : the objective of avoiding the saturation of hospitals (which was not reached), but also unclear directives which led to some confusion.

In a report published Monday, November 16 on “The human rights of the elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic in Belgium”, Amnesty International denounces a series of violations.

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