Proposed Covid barometer faces an uncertain future

Proposed Covid barometer faces an uncertain future
© Belga

The usefulness of Covid-19 Barometer, sometimes called the Corona Barometer, for Belgium was called into question during yesterday’s Consultative Committee meeting.

The planned barometer is intended to offer a degree of predictability and perspective, especially for sectors like the hospitality and culture ones, by establishing which measures would come into place at various levels, De Morgen reports.

Commissioner Pedro Facon was given the task of further developing the tool, and his latest proposal involves a three-color alarm system based on coronavirus figures like the incidence rate, the number of hospitalizations, and the number of people who go to their doctor with Covid symptoms, among other things.

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Belgium would be in code red today, which is the most severe level on the still-largely-theoretical barometer, based on current figures. But while this is the third iteration of the barometer from Facon, its future implementation still remains uncertain.

Doubts from both Flanders and Wallonia

Belgium needs to ensure any barometer avoids becoming "occupational therapy," according to the Flemish government, with one source saying outright “we don't really believe in it. It simply cannot work, unless it sticks to grand general principles.”

Elio Di Rupo (PS), Minister-President of the Walloon Government, is reportedly not in favour either.

The main argument against the barometer is that politics will always decide which measures apply, not figures. There’s also still a great deal of uncertainty about the new omikron variant, which makes setting the threshold for those deciding figures difficult.

A third and final attempt

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) rebranded the barometer as a 'roadmap' at the press conference after yesterday’s meeting.

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) remains a supporter and would like to formally unveil a Covid-19 Barometer at a Consultation Committee meeting later this month, but said that the next effort to do so would be the third and last attempt.

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