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A ‘guard of dishonour’ for PM Sophie Wilmes as she visits Brussels hospital

Fighting back: Hospital workers make their feelings known as PM’s car passes PICTURE: BRUSSELS TIMES

HEALTH workers turned their backs on Belgium’s prime minister when she made her first visit to a hospital since the pandemic struck in a country with the worst death rate in the world.

Sophie Wilmes (pictured below) was given a ‘guard of dishonour’ as she arrived at the Saint-Pierre University Hospital in Brussels.

The hospital has been at the epicentre of efforts to tackle the outbreak, but workers have been infuriated by budget cuts, poor pay and attempts to recruit unqualified support workers. ‘The troops have gone through a lot of emotions,’ director Philippe Leroy said. ‘There is fatigue and a lot of anxiety. I think they needed to express a lot of things.’

Belgium has a death rate of 79 per 100,000 people, according to the Johns Hopkins University in the US. In second place is Spain with 59. The UK’s rate is 52 per 100,000.

‘The government’s objective is to support the management of the crisis — not to make it more difficult,’ a spokesman for Ms Wilmes said.