The conditions for Belgium to switch to 'code yellow' on its coronavirus barometer could be met by 20 March, said virologist Steven Van Gucht during a press conference on Friday.
To switch to code yellow, fewer than 300 patients must be admitted to intensive care units and no more than 65 hospital admissions should be recorded per day. As Belgium dropped below the threshold of 300 ICU patients on Tuesday, the first condition has been met already.
"If the current trend continues, by the beginning of March we could be below 150 hospital admissions per day," said Van Gucht. "By 20 March, that could be fewer than 65. That way, we would meet both conditions for code yellow."
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Currently, however, 179 hospitalisations are still recorded on a daily basis – a 27% drop from the previous seven-day period, but still well above the threshold of 65.
However, Van Gucht also stressed that the effect of the relaxations that took effect on 18 February – when Belgium moved into 'code orange' – is not yet sufficiently clear.
No more CST?
Notably, the switch to 'code yellow' means that the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will no longer be required to attend events or to gain entrance to hospitality establishments.
Earlier this week, Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale said that she would ask the Walloon government to prepare the implementing decrees, to make the abolition of the CST possible as soon as the Consultative Committee announces it.
On Friday, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke's cabinet announced that, contrary to previous announcements, the CST will not expire after all for those who have not had a booster shot by 1 March. The government will not be able to amend the legislation in time.
“We will nevertheless examine whether to keep the measure in a bottom drawer, to allow to us to apply it in the Autumn, for example, if a new wave emerges, rather than get rid of it definitively,” the official in Vandenbroucke’s cabinet told RTBF.
An in-depth overview of the measures in Belgium's coronavirus barometer can be found here.