At least 22 people have now died from an outbreak of coronavirus at a retirement home in Germany amid claims that staff did not wear masks to avoid scaring residents.
Officials tackling the crisis at the Hanns-Lilje nursing home in the northern German city of Wolfsburg said that the death toll had now risen to 22, with four deaths recorded in the last 24 hours alone.
Another 72 people in the home of 165 have been confirmed as being infected, and officials say logistically it is simply not possible to evacuate any of them to a new location.
Bettina Ensslen, from Diakonie Wolfsburg, the company that operates the home, said that others have now also been tested and they were awaiting the results later today.
Before that were announced, however, it was confirmed that a criminal complaint had been filed against Diakonie Wolfsburg, alleging that carers were ordered to wash patients only once a month when the epidemic started in Germany, and that when doing so they did not wear masks in order not to scare the patients. The complaint also alleges that employees were not tested for the virus.
The lawyer behind the complaint, who has not been named but who is from Wolfsburg, reportedly filed it alleging negligent manslaughter in 12 cases based on anonymous information passed on to them by people working at the home. Prosecutors confirmed that the allegations had been filed and were being investigated.
The city itself has reportedly been hit hard by the virus, with another 19 deaths recorded, although the vast majority of those affected were in the old people’s home. All of the 22 who have died in the old people’s home reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
A spokesman for the city said: “The health officials here are checking all deaths or suspected infections for traces of the coronavirus.”
At the moment, those who have been confirmed as positive in the home have been separated from those who have still not been confirmed as carriers. The only positive news is that four of the people who have tested positive are now well on the way to recovery.
The home specialises in dealing with elderly residents suffering from dementia. It had 165 elderly residents when it went into lockdown after the first confirmation of the infection.
Many of the carers were also infected and nine local residents stepped in to help manage the disaster and provide care for the remaining and surviving residents.
The Mayor of Wolfsburg, Klaus Mohrs, said: “We are still at the beginning of developments. It’s going to be a very, very, very difficult time for everybody.”
He described the situation at the home as extremely difficult and challenging and added: “It is causing us enormous pain as well, and we are doing everything we can for those who remain.”
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