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    Coronavirus: Belgium reaches 37,183 confirmed cases

    Credit: Belga

    1,045 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Saturday.

    This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 37,183. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

    608 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 298 live in Wallonia, and 128 live in Brussels. The FPS does not yet have further information on the place of residence of 11 other people.

    “824 of those positive results come from the classical testing network. 221 come from tests taken in the residential care centres, which are still ongoing,” said Professor Steven Van Gucht of the coronavirus crisis centre. In total, 145,997 coronavirus tests have been taken in Belgium, of which 6,610 in the past 24 hours.

    303 new patients were admitted to the hospital in the last 24 hours, while 387 new people have been discharged, bringing the total number of people in hospital because of the coronavirus at the moment to 5,069, a decrease of 92 patients.

    “Of the patients in the hospital, 1,119 are in the intensive care unit, which is a decrease of 21 patients,” said Van Gucht, adding that of those patients in the ICU, 809 are on a respirator.

    290 new deaths have been reported, of which 93 occurred in the hospital, and were confirmed cases. 192 of the deaths were reported by the residential care centres, most of them were suspected cases based on symptoms.

    Of the newly-reported deaths, 119 occurred in Flanders, 134 in Wallonia, and 37 in Brussels. The total number of deaths in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is currently 5,453. “Of that number, a little less than half occurred in the hospitals,” added Van Gucht.

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    “We also want to present the results of an online survey by Sciensano, which aims to assess the impact of the epidemic on the health and behaviour of the population. About 44,000 people took part, of which most people indicated that they feel well-informed about the measures, the symptoms and the spread of the epidemic,” said Van Gucht. “Most people, but not all, also follow the measures,” he added.

    “70% of people who think they have symptoms, contacted their GP by phone, which is good. 19% had already pre-emptively isolated themselves at home before contacting their doctor. We want to point out that this is very important, because people are most contagious in the very beginning of the infection as that is when most of the virus is produced,” Van Gucht said. “Early isolation is crucial to stop the further spread of the virus,” he added.

    The second part of the online survey will be launched soon, and Sciensano calls on the population to participate, as the information is crucial to monitor the further evolution of the spread of the virus, and to evaluate the measures.

    “95% of us follow our measures well, which we have been seeing during the last few days in the number of new hospital admissions. It is very important that we keep this up,” said Yves Stevens, a spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre.

    “However, Sciensano’s survey also showed that we are following the hygiene measures a little less closely than in the beginning, but it remains crucial that we keep doing this. So wash your hands regularly, sneeze in your elbow,” Stevens said. “The large majority of people is doing the best they can to help all of us. We cannot stop now. Stay at home, stay safe,” he added.

    Update: The number of patients confirmed with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium is 38,496, as of Sunday 19 April. Read more about it here.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times