Why Belgium still has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world
Monday, 06 July 2020
Belgium’s high mortality rate has to do with the broad criteria that our country’s surveillance system set at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, epidemiologist Yves Coppetiers told the RTBF on Sunday.
Belgium is ahead of the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Sweden in terms of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
In fact, “we remain the leading country compared to other European countries and compared to North America,” Coppetiers said. “It has already been observed for several weeks,” according to the epidemiologist.
Over 50% of deaths in Belgium “are deaths that have not been confirmed by diagnostic tests. These are possible cases but have been reported as Covid-19 related deaths,” Coppetiers said. “This can be explained by our surveillance and notification system, which has been very broad from the beginning of the epidemic. These are much broader criteria than other European countries.”
“Our surveillance system was not ready to notify all Covid-19 patients and the systems of notification criteria were not clear enough,” Coppetiers explained. “The notification system was quickly overwhelmed at the beginning of the outbreak. We included a large number of deaths, it made counting easier, but unfortunately, it wasn’t specifically linked to Covid-19.”
“We have to own up once and for all to the dramatic situation we experienced in Belgium,” he said. “In addition to a very broad surveillance system in terms of notification, we experienced a very high mortality rate compared to our neighbouring countries,” according to Coppetiers, who added that “we must be humble and accept this high mortality rate.”
“This has been particularly noticeable in rest and care homes where the mortality rate has been very high,” he pointed out.“We’ll have to do some work to find out if all the deaths are related to Covid-19 but until we do that retrospective work, we have to assume this high mortality.”
As of Monday, Belgium counted 62,016 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 9,771 deaths. The country currently has an average of 85.1 new infections per day. The trend decreased by 3% compared to the daily average of 87.4 new infections the week before.