More Covid-19 hospitalisations, fewer patients in intensive care

More Covid-19 hospitalisations, fewer patients in intensive care
Credit: Belga

While the number of people being hospitalised due to a Covid infection or testing positive in hospital continues its steady rise, the number of patients in intensive care is still decreasing.

Between 18 and 24 March, an average of 189.1 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals each day – an increase of 14% on the seven days previous, according to the figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Friday morning.

This number reflects how many people end up in hospital specifically because of the virus, not those who are admitted with another condition and then test positive for the coronavirus.

On Thursday, a total of 2,632 people were in Belgian hospitals due to an infection, 35 more than on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the number of people being treated in intensive care dropped by three to 168, down from almost 300 one month ago.

This number covers all patients who tested positive for Covid-19, including those who were first admitted with a different condition.

More than 10,000 new cases

Between 15 and 21 March, an average of 10,412 new coronavirus infections were identified every day, a 21% increase on the previous seven days.

The Omicron BA.2 variant, which is accounting for 84.7% of all cases and is a highly transmissible Omicron subvariant, has been blamed for the increase in new cases.

The average number of PCR tests taken per day in the same period inclined by 6% to 37,400. The positivity rate now sits at 29.5%, meaning more than almost three out of ten tests has a positive result.

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The rise in the coronavirus figures across multiple countries, in synch with the lifting of most measures, has been criticised by WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge, who said many countries “are lifting restrictions brutally, from too much to too few.”

After rising slightly, the number of Covid-19 deaths seems to be decreasing again. During the same week, an average of 19.4 Covid-19 patients died on a daily basis, a decrease of 11%. The total number of deaths in Belgium since the start of the pandemic amounts to 30,662.

This figure also includes people who died of another cause of death, but who happened to be infected, meaning they are an overestimate of the deaths caused by the virus.

Reproduction rate, incidence, and total vaccinations

The reproduction rate (Rt) now sits at 1.11. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person. When it is above 1, it means that the epidemic is gaining ground in Belgium.

The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) has once again started to rise rapidly and now sits at 1,156 over the past 14 days.

As of Tuesday, more than 9.12 million people are fully vaccinated – 89% of Belgium’s adult population and 79% of the total population.

Meanwhile, almost 7.1 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 75% of over-18s and 62% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.

While neighbouring France and the UK are already giving people a fourth vaccine dose, Belgium has said it will not extend fourth doses beyond those with reduced immunity for the time being, as there is too little scientific evidence to justify a fourth shot for the general population.

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