Fourth wave ‘seems to be reaching peak,’ says Van Gucht

Fourth wave ‘seems to be reaching peak,’ says Van Gucht
Credit: Belga

Belgium’s fourth coronavirus wave seems to be reaching a peak – at least in terms of the number of new infections and hospital admissions – said virologist Steven Van Gucht.

The new infections and hospitalisation figures are reaching a plateau but this is not yet the case for the number of patients in the intensive care units (ICUs), Van Gucht during a press conference on Friday.

“In ICUs, the pressure remains very great and the peak is still growing. We expect to reach it next week,” he said, adding that models predict it would reach between 850 and 1,000 occupied beds.

“It remains unclear whether we should expect a rapid decline afterwards or whether we will remain on a high plateau,” Van Gucht said, warning of the approaching end-of-year holidays, when more close contacts can still push up infection figures.

Yet so far, the peak in daily infections was likely reached on Monday 22 November, when 25,574 cases were confirmed: the highest number of infections since the start of the pandemic.

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Whether or not it is still necessary for the Consultative Committee to take additional measures (like reintroducing social bubbles in people’s personal lives) today if the peak has been reached is “a political choice,” said Van Gucht.

“Taking extra measures to reduce contacts will also reduce the curve more quickly and bring the burden on the care sector.” Van Gucht stressed that if the level of occupied beds in intensive care reached the 1,000 threshold next week, this would be “a very heavy burden that can only be sustained for a very short time.”

“If you ask me, it makes sense to reverse the curve more quickly, to give more breathing space to healthcare,” he added. “But strict measures come at a great cost and politicians will have to make that decision.”

The Consultative Committee has been discussing stricter measures since 9:00 AM this morning and will hold a press conference to announce its decisions afterwards, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times.

An overview of possible measures on the table can be found here.


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