The measures currently in place to tackle the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium will only be reduced slowly, and it could take a year before everything is back to normal, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.
Professor Van Ranst is in charge of the reference laboratory for Covid-19 at the university of Leuven, and a regular guest on TV and radio to explain the fight against the virus. He made his prediction on last night’s VRT programme De Afspraak.
“It’s only when we determine we’ve reached the peak of the coronavirus has been reached can we start to consider whether to phase out the measures in place,” he said.
Today, experts were saying the peak might be expected in early April, although it seems unlikely the measures will end by April 5, the original deadline set.
“But if you want to talk about a compete normalisation of the situation, then I think we will have to wait for the vaccine that’s on its way. That will be at least a year.”
The last of the measures to disappear, however, is likely to be the ban on mass gatherings, he said. This, despite the fact that festivals like Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter still appear to be entertaining the possibility of going ahead.
Young people are still not fully getting the message, he said, apparently reassured by the news that they form one of the least endangered sections of the population. Least endangered, but still far from invulnerable.
“Some of the young people who are now lying in intensive care were closely connected to the lockdown parties,” he said, referring to the gatherings that took place across the country in the final hours before the pubs closed down earlier this month.
The authorities have a responsibility to make sure the message gets across to young people, he said.
“We’re still reaching some groups like young people much less than we ought to. This is not a game,” he said. “In a computer game, nobody dies. Here they do.”