75 people infected with COVID-19 after Santa’s visit to a retirement home
Santa has spread more than just good humor in a nursing home in Belgium – his visit leaving at least 75 people infected with COVID-19, according to local television.
St. Nick’s alleged super-spread was one of the first to fall ill after his visit to the Hemelrijck care home in Antwerp just over a week ago, followed by 61 elderly residents and 14 staff, officials told VRT.
“It was done with the best of intentions, but it went wrong,” Mol mayor Wim Caeyers said of the visit, calling it “a very dark day for the care home”.
“It’s a very great mental strain for the man who played Saint Nicholas, as well as for the organizers and the staff,” Caeyers told the network.
“Everything will be on deck over the next week or so,” he said of trying to contain the outbreak.
Staff initially insisted that Santa Claus – believed to be the son of one of the residents – wear a mask and follow safety protocols, as did those who met him. However, photos of the meeting quickly proved to be wrong, the mayor said.
Jannes Verheyen, a representative of Armonea, the company that runs the care home, told the Brussels Times that everyone was “shocked” by what had happened.
“It makes no sense to condemn people,” he said, with staff rather “motivated” to control the spread of the virus.