Share article:
Share article:

Belgium can be ‘cautiously hopeful,’ says Van Gucht

Credit: Belga

The slow decline of Belgium’s coronavirus figures is a reason to be ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a loosening of restrictions could be in sight for the country, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht

If this continues, Van Gucht is hopeful Belgium will reach the goal of 75 hospital admissions by mid-March, he said in an interview with De Standaard. This is one of the requirements after which, if fulfilled, there could be relaxations.

He highlighted that the spring break – which was preceded by a cooling-off week for secondary schools – and people not going to work could further push the figures in the right direction.

He also pointed at the stricter travel regulations, saying: “We don’t have to worry so much about returning travellers after the spring break, as opposed to after the Christmas break.”

However, he emphasised that we must remain careful with such predictions, especially as the British corona variant, which has been proven to be more contagious and more deadly, is expected to become the dominant strain in Belgium.

Related News

 

‘One or the other, not both at once’

Any loosening of restrictions will only be done in a gradual and careful way, despite improving figures, said Van Gucht.

“It will be a choice between one or the other, but not both at the same time. The vaccination campaign may be running, but a significant proportion of the risk groups will still not have been vaccinated by mid-March.”

When asked whether this process will be sped up after all risk groups have been vaccinated, Van Gucht said it may be possible to speed things up a little, but, even then, “we will have to keep the virus circulation among the population somewhat under control.”

“Just because you’re not in the risk groups, doesn’t mean you can’t get seriously ill. Relatively healthy people in their twenties and thirties also end up in the intensive care unit, and some of them even have to be ventilated,” emphasised Van Gucht.

Van Gucht said he would be surprised if Belgium is hit by a third wave with the current evolution of the figures, which has become an example to other countries including the Netherlands and the UK.

“At the same time,” he added, “a lot depends on the will of the population to continue complying with the measures for a while.”

He explained that rules won’t be relaxed too quickly, as this may cause figures to go in the wrong direction, resulting in another scaling back, which he recognised would be a big blow to many people and might undermine support for the measures.

“And we really can’t risk that – with the finishing line in sight.”

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgium main EU importer of kangaroo meat after cruel hunting
A recent Australian report discloses cruel hunting of kangaroo whose meat and skins are exported to among others EU member states. The report, ...
EU recognises UK Covid pass as ‘equivalent’ to EU Digital Covid Certificate
On Thursday, the European Commission adopted two new decisions certifying that the Covid-19 passes issued by the United Kingdom and Armenia are ...
Antwerp’s first garden street officially opens this weekend
Antwerp's very first "Garden Street" – which replaces tarmac roads with green spaces – will officially open this weekend. Situated on Lange ...
Belgium relaxes testing rules for UK travellers
At the Consultative Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Belgian authorities decided to relax the testing policy for travellers entering the country ...
Far-right MP calls for resistance against CST and face masks
Companies in Flanders should disobey the newly announced measures, according to Flemish group leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party, Chris ...
How a clever cycling network brings bikers to Flanders
Belgium has always had a special relationship with cycling, but a clever Flemish system of route nodes makes it easier than ever. As Daniela De ...
Brexit fishing conflict escalates: France to adopt retaliatory measures
The conflict between France and the UK over fishing licences post-Brexit continues to escalate. France is set to adopt retaliatory measures ...
Mandatory from Monday: the new rules for Belgium’s Covid Safe Ticket
From Monday 1 November, presenting the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will become mandatory in all hospitality businesses and fitness centres throughout ...
Car falls off opening bridge in Leuven, parents and child slightly injured
On Wednesday afternoon, a young family experienced the fright of their lives in Leuven when the bridge across the Vaartkom that they were driving on ...
Brussels and Wallonia once again dark red on European travel map
The Brussels-Capital Region and Wallonia have turned dark red in the latest update to the travel map by the European Centre for Disease Prevention ...
Belgium in Brief: What Now?
We've had the meeting, we know the results, and now the time has come to see what happens next. So I find myself wondering a simple question: ...
Floating solar farm to be built along Ostend coast next year
Dutch company Oceans of Energy has announced plans to construct a solar farm off the coast of Ostend next year that should eventually provide enough ...