Coronavirus: ‘Timing is crucial’ in lifting lockdown
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    Coronavirus: ‘Timing is crucial’ in lifting lockdown

    Credit: Belga

    Relaxing the lockdown measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) too early might cause a resurgence of the virus “that may be even worse,” said professor Steven Van Gucht.

    Earlier this week, several countries announced they would start relaxing their lockdown measures, and the Chinese authorities have lifted the final lockdown measures in Wuhan, the global epicentre of the pandemic, after nearly 3 months of a strict lockdown.

    Belgium’s 19 April lockdown deadline is approaching, and even though it will likely be extended until at least the beginning of May, the Crisis Centre’s announcement that families with young children could also use the car prompted questions about whether other measures would be relaxed soon.

    “The idea is not to weaken measures at this point in time. That would be much, much too soon,” said professor Steven Van Gucht during the daily press briefing of the Federal Public Health Service on Thursday.

    Earlier this week, the Group of Experts in charge of the Exit Strategy (GEES), the government task force created to ease Belgium out of the lockdown, also announced that it was “far too early” to start defining a timetable.

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    “Since we can see that the epidemic is weakening, and we may have seen the peak and are possibly entering the descending phase in the coming days and weeks, it is relevant to start thinking very hard about what we are going to do in the future about easing certain measures, and at what time,” he added.

    “If we let go of the measures too soon, we risk a second flare-up that may be even worse than what we have seen now. So timing is crucial,” said Van Gucht. “The figures for the coming days will again contribute to making the models more reliable. Based on that, a strategy will be proposed. But we cannot put a date on it yet, or even list specific measures that we’re going to release,” he added.

    The situation in Belgium will also be influenced by that of other countries, most notable the neighbouring countries. “Especially in regards to travelling abroad, the situation of those countries will have to be considered,” Van Gucht said.

    Belgium has recorded 24,983 confirmed cases and 2,523 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times