By Francois Lenoir
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Brussels honoured health workers battling the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday by dressing up the Belgian capital's famed bronze statue of the Manneken Pis as a doctor in a white gown and wearing a protective face mask.
The statue, which is of a boy urinating and is also a fountain, attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
"This is a huge thank you to all hospital staff, not just the doctors and nurses but also cleaners, all the jobs in a hospital," said Marc Guebel, a member of the association that manages the 400-year statue.
"They have all taken risks ... they have done remarkable work," he told Reuters, standing in front of the Manneken Pis.
Belgium, an international crossroads as home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, has one of the world's highest per capita fatality rates from COVID-19. Its death toll is 9,901, with a total of 87,174 infections.
Brussels typically honours famous historical figures, pop stars, sports personalities and seasonal traditions by dressing the Manneken Pis in special outfits, which are then often kept in an adjacent museum.
(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Frances Kerry)