356 additional people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Friday.
This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 54,644. 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.
248 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 80 live in Wallonia, and 28 live in Brussels. “The trend of new infections is still decreasing, by about 10% per day over the last 7 days,” said professor Steven Van Gucht.
21,686 coronavirus tests have been taken in Belgium in the past 24 hours, of which 11,338 in the clinical labs, and 10,348 by the federal testing platform.
67 new patients were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, and 190 were discharged. The total number of people in hospital because of the coronavirus at the moment is 1,862. “This trend, too, is still decreasing, by about 8% per day,” Van Gucht said.
Of the patients in hospital, 380 are in the intensive care unit. “As with the other trends over the last 7 days, this trend also decreasing by about 4% per day,” he said.
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56 new deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of people who died because of the coronavirus to 8,959. “The trend in the number of newly-reported deaths also decreases by about 6% per day,” Van Gucht said.
"We want to say something about the mortality rate in Belgium and other countries. We have reported high mortality figures, and it is clear that we, as a country, have been hit hard by this virus. Belgium is densely populated, with many elderly people. These factors all play a role," said Van Gucht.
"However, we are now seeing that many other countries have largely underestimated their excess mortality. In countries such as the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, the officially reported deaths due to the coronavirus are a lot lower than their total reported deaths," Van Gucht said.
"In Belgium, the excess mortality matches the number of reported coronavirus deaths for almost 100%. To compare, the excess mortality in the Netherlands is almost twice as high as its number of reported deaths due to the coronavirus," he added.
Additionally, the absenteeism rate at work, which could be an early indicator of the virus, has remained stable over the past week. "The number of consultations with the GP for flu-like complaints has also quite stable in the past week, and we see no real increase," Van Gucht said.
"From Monday, a lot of things will be possible again, such as going to the hairdresser or to the zoo," said Yves Stevens, a spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre. "But it is up to all of us to keep respecting to measures. Our behaviour will determine the rest of the curve. Together, we will move forward safely, step by step," he added.
The Brussels Times