When COVID-19 hit Belgium, many elderly were left to die

Even at the height of the outbreak in April, when Ms. Balducci was turned away, intensive-care beds were no more than about 55 percent full.

“They wouldn’t accept old people,” Ms. Doyen said. “They had space, and they didn’t want them.”

Belgium now has, by some measures, the world’s highest coronavirus death rate, in part because of nursing homes. More than 5,700 nursing-home residents have died, according to newly published data. During the peak of the crisis, from March through mid-May, residents accounted for two out of every three coronavirus deaths…

Few countries embody this lethally ineffective pandemic response more than Belgium, where government officials excluded nursing-home patients from the testing policy until thousands were already dead. Nursing homes were left waiting for proper masks and gowns. When masks did arrive from the government, they came late and were sometimes defective.