The sharp rise in Belgium's coronavirus figures seems to be over, as the cautiously positive trend that started at the end of last week is confirmed by preliminary weekend figures from the Sciensano public health institute.
In the period from 25 November to 1 December, an average of 17,758 people were infected every day, an increase of 2% on a weekly basis. One day earlier, the weekly increase was 4%, two days earlier 6%.
A similar evolution also seems to have started in daily hospital admissions: on Thursday, 325 Covid-19 patients were admitted, compared to 350 the day before. On Friday, 298 patients were admitted and on Saturday, it concerned 309.
The weekly average for admissions per day stood at 313 on Saturday, which is about the same number as a week earlier.
The trend is also reflected in the total number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals, which stood at 3,527 on Saturday. The number of patients in intensive care did not continue to rise either, and reached just over 800 on Friday and Saturday.
On Tuesday, Sciensano will again release full data in a new report.
According to virologist Marc Van Ranst, the epidemic is stagnating. "We have reached a plateau, admittedly a fairly high one. Now we have to see if the numbers will go down, and how fast," he told VRT.
The speed at which the figures could drop is hard to predict, he says. "We know that we often go up faster than we go down. So that may take some time. Getting the curve completely down before Christmas and New Year is totally unthinkable."
Additionally, Van Ranst confirmed to Het Nieuwsblad that a total of 18 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Belgium on Monday afternoon.
"However, we also have a few that are almost confirmed. We are 95% sure of that," he said, adding that this is probably still an underestimate of the real number.
"We know that there are also cases that will never be detected. These are young people, for example, who are not sick enough," said Van Ranst. "So in reality there are certainly many more."
Update: This article was updated to include the new total of Omicron cases detected in Belgium.