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Belgium needs ‘short strict lockdown’ now, expert warns

Brussels during the lockdown. Credit: The Brussels Times/Jules Johnston

A short strict lockdown is what Belgium needs right now to get the country’s stagnating coronavirus figures down again, according to Dirk Devroey, professor and dean of the health faculty at VUB.

A strict lockdown for a short period of time, as was announced in Germany, is urgently needed, according to Devroey.

“Many people were no longer following the prevention measures to the fullest, causing the number of infections – that is still far too high – to barely decrease for several days now,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

Hospitals are currently unable to cope with a possible third wave, Devroey stressed.

On Wednesday 9 December, the professor shared a graph on Twitter showing that the figures are currently only falling by 7%.

“At this rate, we will only reach the 800 mark in 14 weeks,” he said. “Without additional measures, we will not contain the virus and someone still dies from Covid-19 every 14 minutes in our country.”

On Friday 18 December, Belgium’s Consultative Committee is meeting again, and could decide to take extra measures.

There is “no time to lose,” according to Devroey, who hopes that the government will once again call on the population to respect the rules “as a kind of last call.”

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“Otherwise it will take months before we are in control of the situation again, with the current soft lockdown measures and too many people no longer following them,” he said.

Biostatistician Geert Molenberghs said that he hopes that new measures are not necessary, and that strictly enforcing the current ones will be enough.

“The Christmas holidays are coming, which will automatically cool things down hopefully, as the schools will be closed and there will be less traffic,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Let us hope that we can then deal a blow to the virus.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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