If the increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the Brussels Region continues to grow like has in the past week, the situation will likely become as severe as in Antwerp, health officials said during a press conference on Wednesday.
"Fortunately, for a few days now, we have been seeing that the increase - and it is still an increase - is levelling off," said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. "As we said last time, the exponential growth seems to have stopped," he added.
"However, the Brussels Capital-Region has seen a large increase. If it continues like this, we expect that the Region will reach the infection level of Antwerp within 2 weeks," Van Gucht said.
There are still a number of major regional disparities. "In the provinces of Limburg, Antwerp and Luxembourg, for example, the curves are going down," he said.
For the other provinces, the increase in figures compared to last week is somewhere between 20% and 50%. "The strongest increases can be seen in the provinces of Liège and East Flanders, each registering some 400 new cases per week," he added.
"Yesterday, 48 new patients were admitted to hospital, which is the highest number of admissions per day since the end of May," Van Gucht said, adding that 11 of those admissions took place in Antwerp, and 12 in the Brussels region.
"Fortunately, we do not yet see the same situations as in March and April," he added.
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The gravity of the situation is now mainly explained bases on the number new infections, and no longer on the number of hospital admissions, like it was earlier in the epidemic.
"We do this because, currently, we have more testing capacity than we had then, allowing us to expose a much larger part of the iceberg," Van Gucht said. "The hospital figures give us an answer to the question 'what is the situation today?', whereas the infections rates show a picture of what the situation will likely be in about a month," he added.
Additionally, the federal government launches a new campaign on Wednesday, names "11 million reasons." The name refers to the roughly 11 million people living in Belgium, who each have their own reason to follow the coronavirus measures.
"We want to give the people in Belgium extra motivation to continue to respect the measures, and in particular the 6 golden rules," said Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre.
People are invited to share their reasons on the campaign website, to keep their own motivation and that of other people up. "We realise that it is not always easy, but still it is and remains important to hold on. For ourselves, for each other and for society as a whole," Stevens said.
The Brussels Times