As all coronavirus indicators in Belgium are continuing their decreasing trend, the country is looking forward to switching to 'code yellow' on its barometer at the Consultative Committee on Friday.
Between 19 and 25 February, an average of 6,625 new infections was recorded every day, a decrease of 31% compared to the previous week, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Tuesday.
The same trend is visible in the number of tests: an average of 38,500 tests (-14%) were carried out each day. The positivity ratio in the same period was 19.9%(-5%) – meaning that just under one in five tests were positive.
Nearly all infections are currently due to the Omicron variant and its sub-variant BA.2. The Delta variant has almost completely disappeared from Belgium.
Moving towards 'code yellow'
The hospital figures also continue to evolve favourably, opening the door for the set of relaxations in 'code yellow,' set out by the Consultative Committee at the start of the year.
Between 22 and 28 February, an average of 143 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital every day, a decrease of 32% compared to the week before. This number reflects how many people end up in hospital specifically because of the virus, not those who are admitted with another condition and then test positive for the coronavirus.
In total, 2,319 patients with a Covid-19 infection are currently in Belgian hospitals, a 23% drop compared to last week. This number covers all patients who tested positive for Covid-19, including those who were first admitted with a different condition.
A total of 240 Covid-19 patients are currently still in need of intensive care, a 24% compared to last week. The number of ICU patients has been decreasing steadily, a trend which is expected to continue.
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One of the conditions for Belgium to move into 'code yellow' on the barometer is an occupancy rate of fewer than 300 Covid-19 patients in ICU, meaning that one condition has already been met before Friday's Consultative Committee meeting.
The other condition – admitting fewer than 65 Covid-19 patients to hospital per day – is expected to be met by 20 March, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht, who predicted that the number of daily admissions would be below 150 by the start of March. "By 20 March, that could be fewer than 65. That way, we would meet both conditions for code yellow," said Van Gucht during a press briefing last Friday.
The number of Covid-19 deaths has also started dropping, as an average of 24 people died as a result of the virus every day between 19 and 25 February – 32% less than the week before. A total of 30,179 deaths have already occurred in Belgium
Incidence, and total vaccinations
The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) is continuing to decrease and now sits at 986 over the past 14 days.
As of Tuesday, more than 9.2 million people are fully vaccinated – 89% of Belgium’s adult population and 79% of the total population.
Meanwhile, more than 7 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 74% of over-18s and 61% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.
In total, 24.87 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have already been administered in Belgium.