Top virologist hails 'relatively low levels' of Covid-19

Top virologist hails 'relatively low levels' of Covid-19
Credit: Belga

Unlike the last two years, November has been a relatively calm month for Covid-19  in Belgium, virologist Steven Van Gucht noted on Friday in the weekly Public Health Ministry bulletin.

The number of Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations has been falling for weeks to "relatively low levels," Van Gucht said, noting that the epidemiological situation has been moving in a positive direction this month.

Between 1 and 7 November, an average of 701 new infections were recorded every day, down by 25% from the previous week. This was reflected in GP observations: the average number of people contacting their GP for suspicion of infection continued to fall (from 12 contacts per 100 0000 population per day to eight.)

"However, the new BQ.1 and XBB Omicron variants now account for about half of the infections, which may herald another rise," Van Gucht cautioned. XBB is a recombinant of BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75 sublineages.

Where we are today

During the same period, an average of 4.3 people infected with the virus died each day (-33%), according to the latest update of the public health institute Sciensano's dashboard.

The number of tests performed continues to fall slightly, now sitting at an average of 5,530 tests per day, while the positivity ratio further decreased slightly to 14%.

Meanwhile, 55.4 people were hospitalised every day in the past week as a result of an infection, stable compared to the week before. There are currently 812 people with an infection in hospitals, of which 46 are in intensive care units.

Vaccination remains key

As of Saturday, more than 7.22 million people received a first booster dose of the vaccine, representing 76% of over-18s and 62% of the entire population. Almost 3.71 million people have received a second booster dose – equivalent to 40% of over-18s and 32% of the total population.

The end of the autumn holidays also marked the end of the peak of the autumn campaign. In the past week, just 48,000 second boosters were administered, compared to more than 330,000 in the week before the holiday. Many vaccination centres are being closed, Van Gucht stressed that people can still get vaccinated at their GP.

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"We strongly recommend that people with reduced immunity or other risk factors still go for their autumn shot with winter approaching."

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