Belgium will take strong measures across all sectors at the Consultative Committee meeting, which was brought forward to Friday morning, announced Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
Following calls from experts, all ten provincial governors and several politicians over the past few days, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Thursday afternoon that the Consultative Committee will meet early on Friday to intervene with a package of measures.
“We are again faced with an extremely difficult situation that can no longer be postponed,” Vandenbroucke stated in Parliament on Thursday afternoon.
“We are far beyond the pain threshold in the hospitals. Tomorrow, I will call for strong measures that take effect immediately,” he said. “Waiting means even more misery. That is a disappointing message.”
According to De Croo, the degree of occupancy in the hospitals’ intensive care units – which 659 beds taken by Covid patients – is “worse than the worst-case scenario that the experts presented last week.”
Strong measures will be taken “everywhere, in all sectors,” Vandenbroucke stressed, referring to education, companies and private life. “We will have to limit the riskiest activities the most, or even stop them. We should not point fingers at each other. Have we not yet understood that we are all in the same boat?”
The last Consultative Committee only took place last Wednesday (17 November) but the measures that were taken then – mandatory teleworking and face masks in nightclubs and fitness centres – do not seem sufficient to reverse the rising curve.
“However, if we take measures, they will have to be followed,” De Croo stressed in parliament, adding that “measures have no effect if we do not respect them.”
Additionally, the meeting will also focus on vaccination and particularly on booster shots, says Vandenbroucke. “The vaccines work extremely well against hospitalisation, against severe Covid. With a booster shot, you protect yourself even better.”
So far, about 1,250,000 people in Belgium – mainly people with a weakened immune system, people over 65 years old and healthcare workers – already received a booster dose.
“They should be followed very quickly by large groups of people,” said Vandenbroucke, adding that the country’s various health ministers will discuss a further acceleration of the rollout of the third jab at the Interministerial Health Conference (IMC) on Saturday.
The Consultative Committee meeting will be held over videoconference starting from 8:00 AM tomorrow, and will be followed by a press conference to announce the latest decisions, a spokesperson for De Croo told The Brussels Times.