Coronavirus: 'very unlikely' that epidemic will end in a few months

Coronavirus: 'very unlikely' that epidemic will end in a few months
Credit: Belga

It is very unlikely that the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium will end in the next few weeks or months, said the Federal Public Health Service during the press briefing on Monday.

Despite Monday marking the second day in a row that the number of new hospitalisations remained below 100, the epidemic in Belgium is not over yet, according to Belgian Health Institute Sciensano.

The end of an epidemic as the phase in which no new cases occur on the territory for a period of at least twice the incubation period, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"The maximum incubation period for this virus is 14 days, so twice that would be 28 days," said virologist and inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. "So, we cannot have any new cases on the Belgian territory for 28 days. It is very unlikely that this will happen in the next few weeks or months. In that sense, this epidemic will not end quickly, and we are going to have to take this into account for months to come," he added.

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The reproduction number in Belgium is currently 0.6, according to Van Gucht. "In the beginning, the number was somewhere between 2 and 3. Last week, it was still 0.8," he said. "So, that is good news, it shows that the epidemic continues to shrink," Van Gucht added.

It is very important that this number stays below 1, according to Van Gucht. "From the moment it surpasses 1 again, it means that the epidemic will regain strength, so below 1 is good," he added

Currently, Belgium has reported over 50,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) since the beginning of the outbreak. 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.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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