The Flemish liberal will have to account for the shortage of masks. Only the urgency of the situation saves him the day.

The Flemish liberal will have to account for the shortage of masks. Only the urgency of the situation saves him the day.

From our correspondent, Max Hellef (Brussels) – At the beginning of the week, several shipments of masks arrived in Belgium, preceding in extremis the peak of hospitalizations expected in principle this weekend. They were then distributed to hospitals, home nurses and municipalities under the aegis of the Ministry of Public Health with the help of Defense.

But the affair will certainly leave its mark. How is it, in fact, that one of the best-off countries in the world in terms of health care has lacked this elementary protection of the mask to such an extent?

In recent days, testimonies from caregivers on the verge of a nervous breakdown have multiplied. Like those nurses who, working in the operating room, could not change their mask until it was stained with blood.

The Belgian Ministry of Health launched an appeal on Monday to give healthcare workers in hospitals protective masks against the new coronavirus.

At the heart of this announced scandal is the liberal Flemish Maggie De Block. Long presented by polls as one of the favorite personalities of Belgians, the Minister of Health today feels the wind of the ball. Only the urgency of the situation and the “peace of the brave that six opposition parties have concluded with the minority government of Sophie Wilmès seem to preserve her from the settling of scores for the time being.


The time will come, however. “It’s a certainty,” writes Le Soir. Afterwards, when the corona is defeated and the economy has returned to normal, the “mask case” and “the test case” (also in short supply) will give rise to parliamentary committees to determine responsibilities in this European, and in particular Belgian, fiasco ”.

These responsibilities, Maggie De Block tried to throw them on the Defense which would have stored millions of masks without much precaution. Forgotten in a warehouse, they would have deteriorated before being thrown away. Army response: the Defense mission “was limited to the storage of FFP-2 protective masks at one of its sites, but the management and monitoring of stocks was the responsibility of the FPS Public Health.”

Was there a malfunction? Maggie De Block must in any case expect a massive charge from the French-speaking parties. Thus, the humanist deputy Catherine Fonck opened fire: “We are dealing with a minister who has always been very little attentive to the field, the nursing staff, the patients”.

Seven political parties will support from the spans of the House the current executive in current affairs which will become “full function”. For up to six months.

In addition, the alleged incompetence of Minister De Block would be at the origin of the return to the foreground of the Flemish liberal Philippe De Backer, now at the head of a task force responsible for unraveling a imbroglio where it is question lack of basic medical equipment, but also its shaky distribution between the different regions of the country. Tuesday, recalling that “the virus has no language or border”, the Crisis Center obviously wanted to calm the spirits around information that had been circulating since the weekend: we are detecting a lot more in Flanders and we there dies much less from covid-19 than elsewhere in Belgium … Understand: Flanders is privileged, even in the face of death.

Tensions have appeared between Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and Maggie De Block. The latter can however take refuge behind the monumental quirk that also represents for other European countries the absence of stocks of masks. The fact remains that it is under his authority that the Belgian health system has been put on a diet in recent years.

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