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Covid-19: Care homes in Belgium and Spain had “alarming living conditions,” says MSF report

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 19 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3271

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  1. Jacqui Thornton
  1. London

A report into the global response to coronavirus outbreaks has heavily criticised the “alarming living conditions” in Belgian and Spanish care homes, the former being described as a “true humanitarian crisis.”

The report,1 by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), documents the first phase of the non-governmental organisation’s global covid-19 response from March until May. During that time it committed “substantial resources” both to developing dedicated covid-19 projects and to maintaining essential healthcare in its existing programmes worldwide, including interventions in Italy, Spain, Belgium, and France.

Operations in the four European countries included projects supporting retirement and nursing homes, hospitals, and primary healthcare facilities, as well as providing protection and care to vulnerable groups in reception facilities, refugee camps, homeless shelters, and prisons. Smaller projects were set up in Portugal, the UK, and Switzerland.

But it was Belgium and Spain where the living conditions—as well as the lack of protective …

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