As the coronavirus pandemic moves into a new phase in Belgium, public health institute Sciensano is changing the way it reports its numbers.
At the moment, “the number of new infections is the most important parameter,” according to Sciensano virologist Steven Van Gucht. The evolution is still being followed up on a daily basis.
Sciensano announced it would launch a new online tool in the coming days that will map the number of new coronavirus infections per municipality, while previous reports have been about the whole country and included new deaths and hospitalisations.
- Top health officials spar over Belgium's coronavirus ranking
- Coronavirus: Sciensano stops publishing weekend figures
These last two parameters will no longer be reported on the weekend, to take the pressure off of hospitals. “Furthermore, those parameters are less important to take immediate action than the number of new infections,” Van Gucht explained.
The tool has an alert function for local leaders to step in and take measures in case there’s a flare-up in their municipality. This function “should form a trigger for the health inspection if there would be a noteworthy number of new infections.”
Virologist Marc Van Ranst had criticised Sciensano’s change in reporting. “A country that still has more than 20 new infections per day (last week, there was an average of 90 per day) can not afford to already switch over to ‘summer holiday mode’ and not publish new corona numbers on Sunday and Monday. To manage is to measure! Sorry but this should be better,” Van Ranst tweeted.
The Brussels Times