Limiting private contacts 'needed to fight autumn wave', expert warns

Limiting private contacts 'needed to fight autumn wave', expert warns
Credit: Belga/ERIC LALMAND

The Consultative Committee announced it is introducing a handful of measures in public spaces to control the quickening spread of the coronavirus, however, certain changes may have to be made in people's private lives as well.

As Belgium's vaccination campaign proved successful and the coronavirus figures remained positive throughout most of the summer, many people thought this would remain the case, according to Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon.

"I think that society as a whole, including the political aspect, hoped a little too hard that the situation would not be so bad in the coming months, while we actually know, also based on scientific research, that we will still have a number of flare-ups until 2023," he told Radio 1 on Wednesday morning.

"It is completely human that when things are going well, one hopes that it will continue like this. But if the situation is worsening, then things also need to be adjusted," he said.

This is why the government decided on Tuesday evening to (re-)introduce certain measures, including making face masks indoors mandatory across the whole country, standardising the rules regarding the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) where possible, and once again encouraging teleworking.

'Voluntary measures'

Facon argued that people will also have to limit contacts in the private sphere to reduce the autumn wave, adding that this is especially relevant for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

"In addition, it is important to meet outdoors if possible and to ventilate indoors. If that is not possible, then face masks and social distancing are important," said Facon.

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Although there are currently no official guidelines or measures in place to limit social contacts, Facon said he is counting on the population being motivated enough "to follow a number of measures voluntarily."

"People understand that the virus circulation is high again and that there is more pressure in the hospitals and on doctors. Many of us realise that we will all have to contribute if we want to turn the curves and not be faced with decisions that we no longer want as a society," such as lockdowns or the closing down of certain sectors.

He added that additional measures will also be needed in education, including making face masks compulsory for certain groups, which he said must "not be a taboo subject," as the number of cases among school children is also rising.

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