Omicron now accounts for 41% of infections in Belgium

Omicron now accounts for 41% of infections in Belgium
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

The Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread rapidly in Belgium, as it is already responsible for 41% of all registered infections, according to microbiologist Emmanuel André.

The number of Omicron infections has doubled again in the past two to three days, said André, who is in charge of the national Reference lab for Covid-19.

“It is to be expected that this dynamic will, from today or tomorrow, start driving a new rapid resurgence,” he added.

In many countries in Europe, new records for the number of infections have been set in recent days and Omicron seems to be replacing the Delta variant rapidly, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

“In absolute figures, we are seeing approximately 3,000 Omicron infections a day compared to roughly 700 a week ago,” he said during a press conference on Friday. “That is a fourfold increase.”

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The experts are still expecting the Omicron variant to become the dominant strain before the new year starts, when it will account for more than half of all infections, Van Gucht said.

“The risk of hospitalisation is about 30% to 80% lower with Omicron,” he said. “Different studies gave some pretty divergent results, but generally, we could say that the risk is 50% lower. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty.”

However, Van Gucht stressed that a reduced chance of being admitted to hospital does not necessarily mean that Belgium will be spared another Covid-19 wave of hospitalisations.

“If the risk is only 50%, but the number of infections double, the rate of hospital admissions will remain at the current level, and the healthcare system will remain under a lot of pressure,” he added.

“So, limit your contacts during the holidays. Have a merry Christmas, but most of all: celebrate safely,” said Van Gucht.

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