Doctor in a time of crisis


A major outbreak of an infectious, deadly disease in the province of Brabant. It all sounds way too familiar to inhabitants of the Brabant village of Herpen. Twelve years ago, the residents were also affected by a mysterious illness. At that time, people experienced sudden and very severe flu symptoms, often resulting in pneumonia. It turned out to be the prelude to the largest Q fever epidemic in the world. The result: 95 confirmed deaths and over a thousand people with chronic complaints in the Netherlands.


Now, twelve years later, a new dangerous disease has come to town. Covid-19. Zembla returns to the doctor who also worked during the previous epidemic in Herpen: Rob Besselink. The camera follows Besselink and his close colleagues for a month, during the peak of the Corona pandemic. His patients are living in fear, the trauma of the previous outbreak has not yet been resolved. In one case, the fear of Covid-19 results in a request for euthanasia. The camera follows the development of the old Adriaan de Kleijn’s death wish. How does the doctor deal with his serious request, when so little is known about this new disease? 


Zembla investigates: What does a doctor do in times of crisis? How to be close to seriously ill patients when the risk of infection is so high? An intimate portrait of a close-knit community.

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