In the last 24 hours, 1,629 new cases of infection by the coronavirus (Covid-19) have been confirmed in Belgium, according to the government crisis centre’s daily report.
The new cases bring to 29,647 the total of confirmed cases in Belgium.
The new numbers were divided among the three regions: 1,003 in Flanders, 461 in Wallonia and 143 in Brussels.
No information was available as to the origin of 22 of the new cases.
Of the newly confirmed cases, 392 have been hospitalised, bringing the total to 5,353, of whom 1,223 are in intensive care, a fall of 39 in the last 24 hours.
The last 24 hours saw 268 new fatalities, bringing the total to 3,600 since the outbreak began. Of the total number of fatalities, 54% died in hospital, 41% in a care home, none at home and 3% in another location.
The crisis centre stressed a point it has made before: the number of hospitalisations is a more reliable indicator of the progress of the epidemic than either the number of diagnoses or the number of deaths.
The number of diagnoses, Emmanuel André has pointed out, is reliant on the number of people tested. Since the government plans to increase the number of tests to at least 10,000 a day, more confirmed diagnoses can be expected, which is not to say that more people are becoming infected. Many of those diagnosed will be affected only slightly or not at all.
According to minister Philippe De Backer, who is in charge of the response to the coronavirus on the ground, the number of tests has now exceeded 5,500 a day – a development reflected in the increase in numbers of confirmed cases, up from 1,351 the day before.
The number of deaths, meanwhile, is a more dramatic figure, but two points are important: the cases of a fatal infection are not spread equally across the population; and deaths typically occur later in the disease process, so that today’s numbers reflect confirmed cases of infection and hospitalisation reported two weeks ago at least, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.
Therefore, while the number of deaths remains high, it is lower than the numbers reported on April 7 (292) and April 8 (309) earlier in the week.
Hospital admissions peaked on March 28, with 629 admissions in 24 hours. Since then the trend has been downward, with today’s figure the second-lowest since the peak.
Since the outbreak began in Belgium, 6,463 patients have been able to leave hospital after treatment. Yesterday saw 477 hospital patients discharged.