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    Belgium’s coronavirus death toll tops 5,000

    Credit: Belga

    Belgium’s coronavirus death toll has surpassed 5,000 after 313 deaths were reported in the country in the past 24 hours.

    At a daily press conference, public health officials said the country’s death toll stood at 5,163 as of Friday, up from 4,857 the day before.

    More than half (199) of the deaths reported within the past 24 hours took place in a nursing home, while the remaining 114 people died in the hospital.

    Over half (52%) of the total deaths in the country took place in nursing homes, where authorities have been racing to ramp up testing capacities and to make up for medical equipment and staff shortages.

    In a press conference of the National Security Council on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès beat back questions about whether nursing homes had been left behind, saying their response had been hindered by global supply and test kit shortages.

    “Massive testing is currently ongoing in nursing homes — not because they had been neglected before, but because we did not have the testing capacity before,” Wilmès said.

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    Of the 313 people whose death was reported on Thursday, 24% had had access to a Covid-19 test that had turned out positive, according to figures in the latest official situation report.

    While the people who died in the hospital, which account for 44% of the total tally, were all tested and confirmed to have the new coronavirus (Covid-19), only 7.8% of those who died in a nursing home were tested and confirmed positive.

    With over 1,000 new positive cases confirmed, Belgium’s total count of confirmed cases continued to mount, standing at 36,138 on Friday.

    Belgium’s daily testing capacity on Friday stood at 5,000, up from an average of 2,000 tests per day, an increase which follows the creation in late March of a testing task force would aim to bring the number of daily tests up to 10,000.

    399 coronavirus patients were released from the hospital in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of patients discharged since 15 March to 7,961.

    Of the 5,161 patients who remain in the hospital, 1,140 were in an intensive care unit (UCI) as of Friday, down from 1,182 on Thursday.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times