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    Coronavirus expert warns against comparing countries

    © Belga

    Virologist Emmanuel Andre warned on Saturday against making comparisons between countries regarding the new Coronavirus (Covid-19) without taking different variables into account.

    “The epidemic situation can be widely different from one country to the next simply because the virus entered countries at different times,” he said at a health authorities press conference, in reference to tables and graphs comparing the health situation in Belgium and in other countries.

    “The epidemic could, therefore, have had a late start, and it could also have sped up,” the virologist noted. “In Belgium, for example, over 150 new outbreaks began at the same time after the Carnaval Season so the epidemic spread particularly fast. That’s the particularity of our country.”

    The number of reported deaths is also linked to the testing capacity of hospitals and nursing homes, Emmanuel Andre stressed. “There can also be an under-reporting effect,” he said. “That’s not the context we are in here in Belgium, because testing is widely available, especially for hospitals.”

    Belgian authorities, he added, insist on “reporting all deaths in all transparency.

    It is risky to make simple comparisons in such cases, according to the virologist. However, “we understand the need some people have to ask the question of confidence about our reaction capacity,” he added. “We believe the best way to compare is to take the number of hospital deaths, which is 1,840 in Belgium.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times