Rise in average number of infections halted, hospitalisations continue to rise

Rise in average number of infections halted, hospitalisations continue to rise
Credit: Belga

The rise in the average number of new coronavirus infections in Belgium has stopped for the first time in weeks, however, the number of hospitalisations continues to increase.

Between 22 and 28 January, an average of 47,815 new coronavirus infections were identified every day — the same (+0%) as the previous seven days, according to the figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Tuesday morning.

The day record since the start of the pandemic was officially reported last Monday (24 January), when more than 73,000 infections were recorded. The Omicron variant accounts for almost all cases in Belgium (99%).

The average number of PCR tests taken per day in the same period increased just slightly, as some 116,047.9 tests were carried out. The positivity rate also decreased for the first time in weeks, and now sits at 45.9%, meaning almost half of all tests undertaken are positive.

For the first time since the fifth wave started, the number of deaths recorded on a daily basis has increased in a noticeable way. During the same period, an average of 27.3 Covid-19 patients died per day, up by 11% since last week.

Total deaths in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic amount to 29,052.

Rise in patients in ICU

Between 25 and 31 January, an average of 363.6 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals per day — an increase of 16% on the seven days previous.

This number reflects how many people end up in hospital specifically because of the virus, not people who end up in hospital with another condition and then test positive for the coronavirus.

On Monday, a total of 4,081 people were in Belgian hospitals due to an infection, 242 more than on Sunday. This number does include all patients who tested positive for Covid-19, including those who were first admitted with a different condition.

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The number of patients in a life-threatening condition remained relatively stable for weeks, but is now starting to increase, as 405 people are being treated in intensive care (+18), while 180 (+14) patients are on a ventilator.

A UK analysis found that the risk of hospitalisation is lower for Omicron cases after both two and three doses of vaccine, with a 77% to 85% reduction in the risk of hospitalisation after three doses compared to unvaccinated people who are infected with the Omicron variant.

As of Sunday, more than 8.86 million people are fully vaccinated — 90% of Belgium’s adult population and 77% of the total population.

Meanwhile, almost 6.54 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 70% of over-18s and 57% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.

The reproduction rate (Rt) has once again decreased to 1.08. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person, and when it is above 1, it means that the epidemic is gaining ground in Belgium.

The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) continues to rise and now sits at 5,802 over the past 14 days.

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