'Favourable Covid evolution' opens the door to code yellow, says Van Gucht

'Favourable Covid evolution' opens the door to code yellow, says Van Gucht
Credit: Belga

As all coronavirus indicators continue to fall, virologist Steven Van Gucht said that this "favourable evolution" opens the door to move into code yellow on the barometer.

The number of new infections is decreasing across the entire country, with the greatest drop in Wallonia, Van Gucht said during a press briefing on Friday: "The decrease in infections is slightly slower than in the previous weeks but sufficient to switch to code yellow."

"Due to the recent and future relaxations, it is possible that the infections will decline at a slower pace and may eventually even, rise again," Van Gucht added. "But due to the built-up immunity among the population, we do not expect this to lead to new problems in healthcare."

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The virologist reiterated that at the current rate, hospitalisations are still expected to fall below the threshold of 65 admissions per day by 20 March. "So by then, we can meet both conditions for code yellow of the barometer," Van Gucht said.

With 227 Covid-19 patients currently in intensive care, Belgium is already meeting the first condition for code yellow. The Consultative Committee is meeting this afternoon to discuss a national transition to yellow, with some experts and politicians already stating that this will almost certainly happen.

In code yellow, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) would largely disappear, as well as the face mask obligation and capacity limits at events. But Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden stressed that "not all measures will disappear."

Code green in a few weeks?

"I would still recommend that air quality meters are used in the hospitality, culture and sports sectors, among others. It is a technology that works and provides a safe environment," she said on Flemish radio on Friday. "Additionally, I think it is necessary that on public transport – where people sit close together – the face mask remains on."

In healthcare institutions, where more vulnerable people are often present, Verlinden also wants the face masks to be worn. She also indicated that will the coronavirus barometer is not set to disappear for the time being, "a switch to 'code green' could be made in a few weeks if the figures continue to fall."

The Consultative Committee meeting started at 13:00 and will be followed by a press conference, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. An overview of all topics expected to be on the table can be found here.

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