Brussels’ excess mortality rate surged by 50% during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, making it the hardest-hit region of Belgium.
Data collected by Belgian statistics office Statbel showed that the capital region had recorded an extra 3,530 deaths in the period running from 1 March to 31 May, accounting for a jump of 50% in excess mortality.
The capital’s high population density was seen as a factor which facilitated the spread of the virus and seen as explanatory for the spike in deaths.
The data also showed that the municipalities with the highest number of elderly residents had seen the number of deaths rise significantly.
In Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, excess mortality more than doubled, rising by 156%, while in Watermael-Boitsfort and in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, the number of excess deaths rose, respectively, by 86% and 81%, according to Le Soir.
Conversely, younger municipalities like Etterbeek or Saint-Josse recorded more limited jumps, of 17% and 22% respectively.
At the national level, authorities recorded a total of 36,271 deaths due to all causes—an average of almost 400 deaths each day throughout the period corresponding to the first wave of the pandemic in Belgium.
Overall, excess mortality in the country began spiking up around mid-March and peaked on 10 April, day when 674 deaths were recorded, before beginning to recede at the beginning of May.
The figures showed that 8,100 more people died during the three months than during the same period in 2015-2019, representing a surge in the country’s excess mortality rate of 28.8%.
The first wave of the deadly pandemic pushed the excess death rate up in all provinces throughout Belgium, with each registering a surge in the number of deaths of 20% compared to the average rate of mortality.