Belgium’s authorities are “thinking very hard” about the possibility of taking lockdown measures similar to those taken in the Netherlands last weekend, said Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
While he does not want to make statements ahead of the Consultative Committee on Wednesday, Vandenbroucke told VTM News that the ministers will “consider all possibilities.”
Asked about the possibility of lockdown measures as in the Netherlands, he said that “we are thinking very hard about that. We will all decide together at the Consultative Committee.”
Belgium vs. Netherlands
Vandenbroucke pointed out that the situation in the Netherlands is different from the one in Belgium on several levels. The number of Belgian residents who have already received a booster dose is roughly twice as high as for the Dutch population.
Additionally, the Netherlands has fewer intensive care beds than Belgium does, explained virologist Marc Van Ranst. “They only have half of what we have,” he told VRT last weekend, adding that this means that the Dutch hospitals can become overburdened more quickly.
Yet, the current measures in Belgium will likely not suffice, said Van Ranst. On Dutch television, he said that even though experts and politicians are divided about going back into lockdown, the Belgian government should “act on the concerns that are prevalent now.”
“If you are concerned afterwards, the whole epidemic is already over,” he said. “In crisis management, you sometimes have to make decisions based on 20% of the information. You cannot take that risk.”
Vandenbroucke, too, stated that having a high vaccination rate alone (88% of the adult population is fully vaccinated) is not enough to fight the Omicron variant, which now accounts for about one-fifth of all detected Covid-19 cases in Belgium.
“The most important thing now is that everyone goes for that booster. And we need precautionary measures,” he said. “The solution is in the combination of the two.”