'Worse than in March': Belgian hospital figures double every week

'Worse than in March': Belgian hospital figures double every week
Credit: Belga

Belgium's hospital figures due to the coronavirus are doubling every week, with the situation in Walloon hospitals similar to that in March, health officials said during a press conference on Monday.

More than half the number of hospital admissions as during the peak of the first wave was recorded in Belgium on Saturday 17 October, when 351 new patients were admitted, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

"The peak of hospital admissions during the first wave was 629 admissions, on 28 March," he said.

"If we split the figures by Region, we can see that the situation is particularly precarious in Wallonia," Van Gucht said. "On Saturday 17 October, there were as many new hospitalisations in Wallonia as during the peak of the first wave."

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Currently, the number of admissions is also rising faster than during the first wave, which will increase the pressure on Walloon hospitals even further in the coming days, according to him.

The Brussels-Capital Region is currently seeing the number of daily hospital admissions at half the peak of the first wave. "The number continues to double every two weeks."

Flanders is currently recorded about one-third of daily hospitalisations compared to the peak of the first wave. "However, we are seeing an acceleration in the number of admissions, which are doubling every seven days," Van Gucht said.

Currently, a total of 2,485 patients with Covid-19 are admitted to hospital in Belgium, 412 of whom are in intensive care.

"The number of hospital beds taken doubles every 8 to 9 days, so we can expect to exceed the 500 patients in intensive care as early as this week," said Van Gucht.

At the current rate, Belgium will see 1,000 patients in intensive care by the end of this month. "If the pace then continues, and if we had not taken additional measures, we could have expected to have 2,000 patients in intensive care somewhere in mid-November, and that is the maximum capacity."

In the meantime, several hospitals have announced that they cannot handle the influx of patients, with many - first in Brussels, but also in other cities - scaling up to Phase 1B, in which they have to reserve 50% of their ICU beds for coronavirus patients.

The situation in the hospitals in the Liège province is currently "worse than in March," according to Philippe Devos, intensive care physician of the Liège CHC hospital group, said on RTBF radio, adding that they are currently working with a "just-in-time" approach, meaning the beds still available could be occupied by the end of the day.

The strict measures that were announced before the weekend and went into force on Monday, serve to reverse the trend in the next 2 to 3 weeks, according to Van Gucht.

"We must also remember that it is not just the measures taken by the public authorities that will help us, but that the most important key is still in our own hands," he stressed.

"Always remember that any close contact we avoid, any friend or colleague we keep our distance from, can make a drastic difference in the number of infections over time, and will also make a difference to our hospitals," Van Gucht said.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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