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Belgians can now track coronavirus per municipality

The darker green the colour of the municipality, the higher the rate of new infections. Credit: Sciensano

This week, Belgium’s national research institute Sciensano launched a new tool with which both authorities and citizens can track the number of new infections in their municipality.

As the institute has stopped holding press conferences to announce the latest figures for new infections, hospital admissions and deaths in Belgium, it launched a tool for citizens to keep track of the situation themselves.

The presence of the coronavirus is being measured at the municipal level, based on three indicators.

The first is the “cumulative incidence calculated over 7 days,” meaning the number of new cases over the last 7 days, divided by the population of the municipality, multiplied by 100,000.

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Second is the number of consecutive days that at least one new case was reported, and third is the number of days on which the number of new cases increased compared to the previous day.

Over the last seven days, the city of Antwerp reported the most (60) new infections in absolute figures, almost four times as much as the city of Brussels, which reported the second most new infections (16).

However, the tool also shows that, based on population, the two cities are comparable with 11 cases in Antwerp, and 9 in Brussels.

Credit: Sciensano

Per 100,000 inhabitants, the Walloon municipality of Houffalize in the Luxembourg province, reported the most cases, with 58 over the last seven days.

“Detecting a [high number of cases] does not necessarily mean that there is actually a serious problem on the ground,” said Sciensano. “In a small municipality, for example, some new infections may cause the thresholds to be exceeded, whereas in reality, these are only isolated cases,” the institute added.

People can single out their own municipality, or any other municipality they wish, to look at the local situation.

Credit: Sciensano

At the moment, Belgium is in a transition phase in its way of reporting, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht. “The number of new infections is the most important parameter,” he said.

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,” he added.

Look into the data in the municipality where you live here.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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