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SEX

Hospital sex abuse claim ‘just the latest’

A German hospital worker has been suspended after allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl in his care - and it has emerged that despite earlier similar allegations, he had been working in the children's department since 2008.

Hospital sex abuse claim 'just the latest'
Photo: DPA

It took a week for the director of Berlin’s Charité hospital to be told about the allegations against the nursing assistant, and he admitted on Wednesday that the man had been accused of touching children inappropriately in the past.

The girl, who has not been named, arrived at the Charité children’s emergency department late last Tuesday night with an “acute illness”, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported.

She was given sedatives and the nursing assistant supervised her getting undressed, which was when he allegedly touched her genitals.

The girl told her father who alerted the doctor on duty and by the afternoon the man, who had worked at the hospital for nearly 40 years, had been suspended.

It was not until nearly a week later that the hospital director Karl Max Einhäupl found out what had happened. “We have a communication problem,” he admitted at the Wednesday evening press conference.

He also said that the man had been linked to three other incidents of indecent behaviour against children at the hospital. They are thought to have taken place around five years ago. He has been working in children’s emergency department since 2008.

An investigation has been launched to see if there have been other victims. The hospital said it would be setting up a hotline for those with information or questions and Einhäupl said staff would be contacting parents of children treated recently in the department.

Berlin’s state senator for science Sandra Scheeres, who is politically responsible for the Charité, told the Tagesspiegel that “we need all the facts on the table and I want to know who knew what and what decisions were made.” She said she could not understand why the man had been able to continue working with children after the first allegations.

This is not the first time that the Charité has made the headlines in the past few months. In October a newborn baby died after several were infected with faecal bacteria – although it was later said that the cause of death was not the infection.

Shortly after this, two men came into the oncology department and badly beat a doctor with wooden planks, seemingly in connection with his treatment of a woman.

DAPD/The Local/jcw

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HEALTH

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”

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