Coronavirus: experts prepare for a possible second wave

Coronavirus: experts prepare for a possible second wave
Credit: Belga

Whether necessary or not, the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES) is working on a plan to move back into confinement, its president Erika Vlieghe said in Le Soir on Saturday.

A second wave of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) will come, thinks Vlieghe, who is the head of the Infectious Diseases Department of the University Hospital of Antwerp. "The whole question is how big it will be," she said. A rebound could happen as early as this summer, she added.

"It will be our task to be vigilant and to dampen the enthusiasm for reopening society too quickly," Vlieghe said. "We saw what the first serious wave looked like. We have to be prepared for a second one, although we'll try not to let it come to that."

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"A rebound won't happen overnight: we'll see it coming. It is also possible that there will be a bounce at a specific point, which will require a specific approach. In short, there are many, many scenarios," Vlieghe said, pointing out that some countries who went out of confinement too quickly have had to backtrack.

Yves Van Laethem, an infectious disease expert at CHU Saint-Pierre and inter-federal spokesman in the fight against coronavirus, confirmed the possibility of a second lockdown. "If things get off to a strong start again," Van Laethem envisions containment and much more drastic measures "in the style of China," he told Sudpresse. "I think that if people see another increase in deaths and hospitals filling up, they will respect the new measures."

The question of holidays is also still a topic of discussion, according to Vlieghe. She raises the possibility of holidays within the country. "But that also needs to be organized. We can't send everyone to the beach or to the Ardennes at the same time."

Belgium is set to start moving out of its lockdown in three phases as of 4 May. Since the start of the pandemic, Belgium has counted 49,517 confirmed cases.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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