King Philippe and Queen Mathilde became the first royals to visit a COVID ward at a Belgian hospital on Tuesday.
The Belgian royals visited the Bois de L’Abbaye Hospital in Seraing to see how the hospitals in the area are dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus. The royal couple were welcomed by Hervé Jamar, Governor of the province of Liège, and Francis Bekaert, Mayor of Seraing.
During their visit, they met with the staff on various wards and heard first-hand stories of how they are finding their work during the pandemic. This included medical personnel and also other staff members like a cook, a therapist and technical services staff.
Afterwards, the royals donned personal protective equipment to visit the COVID-19 ward to meet with doctors and patients at the adjacent Defense Intermediate Hospital Capacity unit, where military personnel have been taking care of coronavirus patients who do not require intensive care treatment.
Among the patients they visited was Rosa, an 87-year-old woman who has been recovering from the illness following a harrowing three-week ordeal at Citadelle Hospital. The COVID-19 ward at the Defense Intermediate Hospital Capacity Unit has 26 beds for patients and has been staffed by military personnel since the beginning of the month.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde wrote about their visit on Instagram, saying, “The second wave of Covid19 put strong pressure on the capacity of Liège hospitals, which in particular received support from the Defence.”
The hospital’s Director, David Iliaens, told reporters, “This is a first for the hospital, and it is good for staff morale.” Hospital director Stephanie de Simone said, “We are happy that the royal couple has visited our hospital.”
In Belgium there have been 540,605 coronavirus cases, resulting in 14,839 deaths. The country has currently implemented measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which will last until 13 December.