Even with strong action now, 'we will still have a few weeks of misery,' says Vlieghe

Even with strong action now, 'we will still have a few weeks of misery,' says Vlieghe
Infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe. Credit: Belga

Even if the Consultative Committee takes powerful and clear decisions today, Belgium will still have to endure a few weeks of misery while the number of infections decrease, says infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe.

After the healthcare sector and the provincial governors sounded the alarm over the past week, the Committee met early on Friday to take strict measures to stop the skyrocketing figures in the country.

"These are astronomical figures. They did not even go that high last year," Vlieghe told VRT on Friday morning, adding that this has "enormous implications" for all of society.

"Limit your numbers, sit outside as much as possible, use self-tests," she said. "We are all going to have to take responsibility. Because even if we take strong action now, we will still have a few weeks of misery first."

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Vlieghe stressed that there are huge queues at test centres – "no way" to start contact tracing – GPs are crying out for help, De Lijn is having to adjust its lines, schools and businesses are shutting down. "Society as a whole is at risk of grinding to a halt."

For her, the only solution is strong measures so that people have as little contact with each other as possible. "There must be more teleworking, leisure must be put on hold for a few weeks and we must further safeguard the schools."

"In all areas, we must see less of each other. We know the recipe," Vlieghe said, stressing people's individual responsibility to see fewer people in their private lives, even if no measures are imposed in that area.

The Committee has been meeting since 8:00 AM this morning. Afterwards, a press conference will be held to announce the latest measures, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told The Brussels Times. An exact time has not yet been announced.

An overview of the measures that are expected to be discussed can be found here.

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