Belgium should consider stricter rules if infections stop falling, expert warns
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Belgium should consider stricter rules if infections stop falling, expert warns

Credit: Belga

If Belgium’s coronavirus infections do not decrease further, the authorities should start considering tightening up the measures again, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs.

At this rate, the figures will not be low enough to allow any kind of relaxation “before the end of January,” Molenberghs said in an interview with TVL, adding that the thresholds of 800 new infections and 75 hospital admissions per day announced by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke have to be reached first.

“However, the longer this stagnation continues, the more [that point] moves forward in time,” he said. “If we get stuck or there is an increase again, we must think of how to deal with it, possibly with tighter measures.”

“We should definitely be careful with international travel, and possibly restrict it,” Molenberghs said, echoing earlier statements by virologist Steven Van Gucht, who told The Brussels Times that travelling to countries with a stronger virus circulation is always an increased risk.

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Like the Crisis Centre on Monday morning, Molenberghs pointed to Belgium’s border regions, where the infections figures have stopped decreasing and are even going up again in some provinces.

“We can see it in the north of Antwerp which borders the Netherlands, the Dutch and Belgian Limburg provinces, and certainly the border with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,” he said, adding that the country is among the worst in Europe for infection rates.

The relaxations before the holidays that some politicians are asking for, however, are definitely not a good idea, according to Molenberghs.

This weekend, Vandenbroucke and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also both stressed that loosening some measures would not happen before mid-January.

“This festive season, we will have to persevere, so we do not allow the figures to go up again after,” Molenberghs said. “If we can get below the set thresholds at the beginning of the new year, we can think of easing some measures with greater peace of mind.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times