Coronavirus: 'if it was up to the virologists,' lockdown would last a year

Coronavirus: 'if it was up to the virologists,' lockdown would last a year
© Belga

If was up to the health experts, the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic would last a whole year, microbiologist Emmanuel André said on Friday.

"If it was only up to the virologists, it would have been simple: everyone in lockdown for a year," André said in an interview with Dutch-language newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

His comments come as the government begins to loosen lockdown restrictions, allowing reduced groups of people to meet under certain conditions and the reopening of shops and work in some non-essential sectors.

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The microbiologist said that the role of the health experts advising the government on coronavirus crisis had "fortunately" been balanced by the views of experts from other domains.

"We see that people need social contact, to come out of their isolation," he said, adding that mental well-being and the country's economic restart were also of a crucial nature.

"The virus is weaker now, hence the social easing. But it is a risk and remains a pressing factor of concern," he said.

André's statements come as he takes up a new position as coordinator of Belgium's contact tracing strategy, a key element to safely steering the country of the nationwide lockdown.

"Getting that contact research up to date is fundamental to get us out of the lockdown," he said, adding that the next four to five weeks would be "crucial."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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