Relaxations over Christmas would start Belgium’s third wave, warns Van Ranst
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Relaxations over Christmas would start Belgium’s third wave, warns Van Ranst

Marc Van Ranst © VTM

Relaxing the current coronavirus measures for the end-of-year holidays would lead to the start of a third wave in Belgium, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

“This epidemic is far from over,” Van Ranst told Het Laatste Nieuws on Tuesday, referring to the recent stagnation of Belgium’s infection figures.

“Relaxations are certainly not the solution now, the epidemic is still too present. It would be the start of a third wave,” he said.

According to him, people are tired of the restrictions and do not always follow them as strictly as they should. “Some people just do not take it seriously,” Van Ranst said, adding that he worries about what will happen during and after the Christmas holidays.

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Tighter measures are not immediately necessary, according to Van Ranst, who called on people to respect the rules currently in place, so extra ones will not be needed.

He also pointed out that the healthcare sector cannot continue to handle it if the figures stabilise at such a high plateau.

Belgium’s reproduction number (R-number) is currently climbing up to 1 again, according to the most recent figures. If it is higher than 1, the epidemic will spread again.

“We are now at 0.95,” Van Ranst warned, adding that in the provinces of Flemish Brabant, West Flanders and Luxembourg, the number is already above 1, and Antwerp is also getting close.

“It indicates that [the growing R-number] is happening all over the country, and then we worry,” he said. “If the measures are not followed strictly, we will not make it like this.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times