Coronavirus 'circulating intensely on our territory again', Crisis Centre says

Coronavirus 'circulating intensely on our territory again', Crisis Centre says
Credit: Belga

Based on the number of new infections per 100,000, it's safe to say that the virus is circulating intensely on Belgian territory again, Belgium's crisis centre says on Monday.

On his first day back, virologist Steven Van Gucht started by thanking Boudewijn Catry for replacing him during his holiday. "Unfortunately, the virus has not taken a holiday," he said, adding that a second wave of infections started from the middle of July.

For now, the numbers are continuing to rise, Van Gucht said, with 13 municipalities with over 100 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, or 1 person in 1,000 infected last week.

Testing capacity has increased in Belgium to around 20,000 tests per day, which is a 20% increase compared to the week before. Meanwhile, the number of positive tests is increasing by 68%, meaning the rise in positive cases cannot be explained by the increase in testing capacity.

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Hospital admissions are also rising, with the number of people in intensive care doubling since the beginning of July.

Infections are rising in several locations in almost all provinces, mainly in densely populated cities and areas with low socio-economic status, according to Van Gucht.

"The basic rules work, and we can manage it with that, but it is important that we apply them consistently," Van Gucht said. "Limit your close contacts to maximum five people, always keep a distance from all others. If you are infected, or have been in close contact with an infected person, isolate yourself immediately, and don't spread the virus further."

"Some people, especially young ones, don’t always feel concerned by the problem," Van Gucht said, but they have to take into account that they too all have parents, grandparents, and colleagues that are more at risk and they can transmit the virus even if they are asymptomatic.

"These reactions are completely understandable, the virus is an invisible enemy, but this crisis is very real and we need to solve this problem together," Van Gucht said.

Van Gucht called on everyone to "hold on, have courage, accept that we still have some difficult months ahead. But I am confident that we can return to a more normal society, hopefully next year. This will eventually pass."

We can't ignore the virus at work either, said crisis centre spokesperson Yves Stevens. "Good habits will protect us and our colleagues against the virus. That is why teleworking is still very strongly advised," Stevens said.

For the sectors where teleworking is not possible, guides have been made with measures that can be applied by the various sectors and their employers. These guides can be found on the website of the Federal Public Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue Service (FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue) and on this website.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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