Belgian retirement home records 26 COVID-19 deaths after visit to Santa Claus tested positive


Twenty-six residents of a Belgian retirement home died from coronavirus following a visit from a Saint-Nicolas volunteer who tested positive for the virus.
The visitor made his trip to the Hemelrijck house in Mol, Belgium, earlier this month. A few days after the visit, several residents began to show symptoms of COVID-19.

Eighty-five residents in total and 40 staff members have tested positive for the virus, and 26 have died of the disease, reported The Guardian.

Members of the local community criticized those who had planned the event, calling them “completely irresponsible”, according to the outlet.

The municipality of Mols first said that the volunteer only entered the common areas of the establishment and wore a mask, keeping his distance from residents.

However, photos subsequently circulated revealing that many residents were not wearing masks to protect themselves, the Guardian reported.

“We received false information from management,” local officials said in a statement, according to the information source. “We deeply regret it. After looking at several photos, we must conclude that this goes far beyond a mistake. Rather, it is a completely irresponsible event. We would never have approved that.

The nursing home has now put in place a crisis manager to help people in the facility cope better during this time. A total of 169 lived in the residence before the outbreak, according to the Guardian.

Belgium has suffered one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in Europe. The country has recorded more than 644,200 cases and reported a total of 19 441 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

Nearly 11,066 residents of nursing homes across the country have died from the virus, The Guardian reported.


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