Sciensano expert warns of rising Covid-19 cases this winter

Sciensano expert warns of rising Covid-19 cases this winter
Credit: Belga

The return of colder weather and the relaxing of health measures are giving rise to new Covid-19 contaminations and hospitalisations around Belgium, virologist Steven Van Gucht said in the Sciensano weekly press conference on Friday.

Van Gucht explained that this tendency has been apparent across the continent and said that the vaccination campaign has, so far, been an effective measure to fight the spread of the virus. Currently, the situation in hospitals is manageable but he advised caution over the coming months, Belga News Agency reported.

"After a long period of stabilisation, we can see in recent weeks an increase in cases throughout the country and across all age groups," the Sciensano expert said. "We can see that the virus spreads as people gather inside and since October, venues such as dancehalls and discos have opened."

In European countries with lower vaccination rates (such as Bulgaria, Romania, and Lithuania), healthcare systems are starting to become full. "Romania, where only 40% of the population is vaccinated, has had to call for European assistance to deliver respirators," the virologist stated.

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Belgium recorded an average of 2,227 new Covid-19 cases per day between 5 and 11 October (+19%). Figures over the last three days have been between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day, Van Gucht said. Increases in cases are particularly high in West Flanders (+62%) and Limberg (+69%).

Hospitalisations are also on the rise, with 790 beds occupied by covid patients (+8%). Finally, deaths have also risen by 47% this week – most notably in the Brussels-Capital Region.

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