Santa Claus brought more than gifts this year. A St. Nick’s visit to a nursing home in Belgium left at least 75 people infected with COVID-19, according to Belgium Dutch broadcaster VRT.
That white beard could not stop Santa from spreading the coronavirus along with his holiday cheer, especially with photographs showing that the man was not wearing a mask on his visit to the Hemelrijck care home in Mol, Antwerp, last week.
The man wearing the Santa suit was among the first to test positive for COVID-19, followed by 61 of the 169 elderly residents and 14 staffers. The Brussels Times reported that the man was a nursing home resident’s son and that such a visit was forbidden by local government.
“It was made with the best intent, but it went wrong,” Mol Mayor Wim Caeyers told VRT. “It has been a very black day for the care home.
“It is a very great mental strain to bear for the man that played Saint Nicholas, as well as for the organizers and the staff …. It will be all hands on deck during the coming week.”
The Red Cross and local authorities were summoned to help control the outbreak, which is of particular concern because of the more vulnerable age group.
Nursing home management told The Brussels Times that the man wore a mask and stayed at safe distances, although photographs disproved both claims, prompting officials to call it “a case of totally irresponsibly management.”
That home’s management deserves a lump of coal in its stocking, but from the real non-superspreader Santa.