This is how Belgian medical teams protested when the prime minister came to visit

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Belgium is one of the major casualties of the Corona epidemic in Europe, and yesterday (Saturday) the country’s prime minister, Sophie Wilms, tried to express gratitude to the medical staff by a first series of visits to hospitals in the city of Brussels. To her surprise, medical crews who were on their way to Saint Pierre Hospital, standing two feet apart – turned their backs on her as the convoy arrived, protesting their working conditions, in an incident that embarrassed Wilms and the government.

Medical staffs are protesting about their terms of employment, which include too long shifts in emergency rooms without enough workers, inappropriate compensation, and nursing organizations especially demanding better working conditions and standards even before the Corona crisis broke out. Prime Minister Wilms told the media that she wanted to “send a message of reconciliation” to the medical teams, and that “we all understand the difficulties faced by the medical teams.” Willems also said she did not see a situation in which after the crisis the working conditions would return to being as they were, and predicted that the medical teams would improve.

More than 9,000 people have died in Belgium since the outbreak of the Corona crisis, and the country leads the world rankings in the number of dead per resident (777 victims per million inhabitants). Brussels authorities say that this is due to the precise information collection system on the causes of death in the country, which also takes into account deaths in nursing homes and the community, and not just in hospitals.

According to the Belgian newspaper La Soir, at least a hundred nurses, doctors, members of the medical staff and hospital maintenance staff took part in the demonstration, which was subsequently reported in the media. The Prime Minister, as stated, expressed an understanding of their situation and met for about 40 minutes with the employee representatives during the visit.



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