All major coronavirus indicators continue to drop ahead of Consultative Committee

All major coronavirus indicators continue to drop ahead of Consultative Committee
Credit: Belga/ERIC LALMAND

The epidemiological situation in Belgium continues to show signs of improvements ahead of today's Consultative Committee, and despite not meeting all defined preconditions, code yellow is expected to be issued. 

Between 25 February and 3 March, an average of 131.7 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals each day – a decrease of 27% on the seven days previous, according to the figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Friday morning.

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

On Thursday, a total of 2,108 people were in Belgian hospitals due to an infection, 27 fewer than on Wednesday, of whom 227 were being treated in intensive care (+13) and 106 (+2) patients were on a ventilator.

This number covers all patients who tested positive for Covid-19, including those who were first admitted with a different condition.

Although one of the defined preconditions to making the transition has not yet been reached (Belgium is still seeing 134 Covid-19 hospitalisations per day instead of the 65 or fewer required), it is expected that the Consultative Committee will decide to move the country into code yellow.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst said "we can definitely go to code yellow next week," but responded to claims that the barometer should be cancelled from now on, saying these would be sending the "wrong signal."

New Covid-19 cases nearing 6,000

Between 22 and 28 February, an average of 6,011 new coronavirus infections were identified every day – the lowest number since the end of December and a 27% decrease on the previous seven days.

The Omicron variant currently accounts for 56.8% of all cases in Belgium, down by 12% since last week, while the Omicron BA.2 variant is accounting for 43.2%, almost 10 more than yesterday. It is expected to soon become the dominant variant.

The average number of PCR tests taken per day in the same period declined by 11% to 36,839.3. The positivity rate now sits at 19.1%, meaning fewer than one in five tests have a positive result.

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During the same week, an average of 22.1 Covid-19 patients died on a daily basis, down by 36% since last week. The total number of deaths in Belgium since the start of the pandemic amounts to 30,244.

The official death statistics also include people who died of another cause of death, but who happened to be infected, meaning they are an overestimate of the deaths caused by the virus.

Reproduction rate, incidence, and total vaccinations

Between 21 and 27 February, the reproduction rate (Rt) slightly increased to 0.80. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person, and when it is below 1, it means that the epidemic is losing ground in Belgium.

The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) is continuing to drop and now sits at 864 over the past 14 days.

As of Tuesday, almost 9.1 million people are fully vaccinated – 89% of Belgium's adult population and 79% of the total population.

Meanwhile, more than 7.02 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 74% of over-18s and 61% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.

A study from the United Kingdom's Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) showed that booster vaccinations are estimated to have prevented 105,600 people from ending up in hospitals following a Covid-19 infection since mid-December.

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