Experts don’t make the covid measures, says Walloon Minister-President
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Experts don’t make the covid measures, says Walloon Minister-President

Elio Di Rupo (PS). © Luc Van Braekel, Wikimedia

Belgium’s experts have been the focus of pointed comments from Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo on Tuesday, amid calls for the country to take action amid rising figures.

“The experts are there to advise us. It is not up to them to decide on measures” that would “affect the well-being of the population”, Di Rupo said on Tuesday, ahead of the latest meeting of the Consultative Committee, set for 9:00 AM on Wednesday.

These comments come after several experts have urged Belgium to implement strict measures in the face of rising infections and hospitalizations in the country. According to a physician on the intensive care unit at the Jessa Hospital in Hasselt, Jasperina Dubois, Belgium could reach the maximum capacity of these places reserved for Covid-19 patients in ten or 14 days’ time.

She highlighted that patients coming into ICU are younger and they are also becoming sicker than in previous months, meaning a higher proportion of the patients who have to go to hospital end up in intensive care.

She added that she cannot comment on what politicians should decide at the moment, but that this problem “will not go away by itself.”

‘Not New’

“We are in a difficult situation with the number of infections increasing, but this is not new. This has already been the case for the past two weeks,” said Di Rupo. “What can we do? On the one hand there is the health situation but on the other hand we know that citizens are tired. What is the most reasonable way forward?” he asked, assuring that he “has no taboos concerning any sector”.

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Last Friday, the committee postponed several relaxations planned to go into effect 1 April as part of the “outdoor plan,” including the restart of outdoor events and amusement parks. On Sunday, the education ministers of the Communities added a series of measures specific to schools, the immediate closure of which was demanded by some.

Since then, the number of reported cases has continued to rise, with a 41% increase recorded on Tuesday, although less than Monday’s rise (+42%). The number of deaths has remained stable, which is mainly due to the vaccination of residents of nursing homes, explained the Walloon Minister of Health, Christie Morreale.

In the long term, the Region hopes to be able to vaccinate 200,000 people per week, but this is not yet the case, as vaccine deliveries remain unstable. This week, only 100,000 vaccinations are planned, a number that should increase to 130,000 next week.

As it stands the ambition remains to re-open the hospitality sector on 1 May, for a full explanation of the current rules see here.

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will next meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. A press conference will be held after.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times