New Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations as a result of the virus continue to increase in Belgium, returning to levels last seen in mid-May.
Between 21 and 27 June, an average of 4,381 new daily Covid-19 infections was identified: a 44% increase from the previous seven days, according to figures published by the Sciensano Institute of Public Health on Friday morning.
The average number of tests taken per day also increased to almost 15,000, up by 2,000 since figures were last updated on Tuesday; the positivity rate has increased to 29.8%, meaning almost one in three tests has a positive result.
Omicron BA.5 has become the dominant strain, accounting for 65.6% of all infections. BA.5 is no more or less infectious than the other subtypes of Omicron, but it does succeed very well in circumventing people’s accumulated immunity.
Deaths as a result of infection are also going up. During the same week, an average of 6 patients suffering from Covid-19 died each day – up 17% on the previous week.
The total number of deaths in Belgium since the start of the pandemic amounts to 31,918. However, this figure includes people who died of another cause but who happened to be infected, meaning that this is an overestimate of deaths attributed to Covid-19.
Situation in Belgian hospitals
In the last seven days, an average of 108.6 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals each day — up 23% on the previous seven days.
The figure, which dropped below 100 in mid-May, reflects how many people are hospitalised directly because of the virus, not those who are admitted with another condition and then also test positive for Covid-19.
On Thursday, 1,352 people were in Belgian hospitals due to an infection, up by some 70 people since Tuesday, while the number of people being treated in intensive care has started to slowly increase and now sits at 75.
This number covers all patients who tested positive for Covid-19, including those who were first admitted with a different condition.
Reproduction rate, incidence, and total vaccinations
The reproduction rate decreased slightly to 1.13 after rising to 1.20 last week. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person. When it is above 1, it means that the epidemic is gaining ground in Belgium.
The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) also continues to rise and now sits at 449 over the past 14 days.
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As of Tuesday, more than 9.09 million people are fully vaccinated – 89% of Belgium's adult population and 78% of the total population. This figure was higher, but since the end of June, this figure takes into account vaccinated people who died.
Meanwhile, more than 7.16 million people have received a booster dose of the vaccine, representing 76% of over-18s and 62% of the entire population.
The rise in cases and hospitalisations spurred the Belgian Health Ministers to call on those with reduced immunity to receive their double booster shot, as new mutations appear most frequently among immunocompromised patients.