The situation in Belgium is not yet “desperate” but as the number of coronavirus infections continues to mount, it is becoming worrying, the country’s coronavirus commissioner said Tuesday.
Newly appointed Government Commissioner for Covid-19 Pedro Facon said that while Belgium is currently being hit by a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but that the country is better prepared than in the spring.
“Preparations are different this autumn,” he said, listing replenished strategic stocks of personal protective material, like face masks as well as a management strategy for hospitals.
“Screening and triage centres are not quite there yet, but they exist, just as the contact tracing system — and there is also the [contact tracing] application, downloaded by 1.2 million in Belgium,” he added.
But Belgium’s testing and tracing platform has started to buckle under rising infections, leading health ministers to decide to scale back the number of daily tests by only testing those with Covid-19 symptoms, after labs sounded the alarm that they could no longer keep up.
In the interview with Le Soir, Facon acknowledged the delays but said that Belgium had fined-tuned its strategies since March, saying the country now “tested better,” and that an improvement of care for Covid-19 patients had led to fewer deaths.
“People die less [of Covid-19] and we are better protecting our elderly,” he said.
Facon said that the reason officials had sounded the alarm earlier than in the spring was to prevent a just-in-time situation where the risk of lockdown would be greater.
Figures on Tuesday showed that, between 13 and 19 October, the average number of daily hospitalisations reached 266 —an increase of 95% compared to previous seven-day period—, with the daily average of new deaths and cases rose again.
“We no longer want our hospitals to close down, we do not want another lockdown,” he said, adding: “The situation is not desperate, but it is very, very serious.”