Brussels has opted out of many of the new measures adopted by the Consultative Committee that started at the beginning of the month, and the city is colour-coded dark red on the ECDC’s travel map.
However there is another indicator that warns of worse to come: the city’s sewer water.
The red colour is triggered when the Covid incidence – the number of cases per 100,000 of population – goes above 200. It is currently at 241.6. Another trigger is a positivity rate outcome of 4% on the many daily Covid tests performed. That figure now stands at 5.4%.
The dark red designation signifies that countries whose nationals return from a visit to Brussels will have to undergo certain procedures, including testing and isolation. Governments can choose for themselves what those are.
Meanwhile the health institute Sciensano had detected the rise in the number of infections by examining the waste water passing through the sewage treatment station at Brussels-North.
Waste water is considered an early indicator of the progress of the epidemic – showing the changes earlier than testing, reports of infections, or hospital admissions.
Simply put: infected persons will leave evidence in sewage water even before they start to report symptoms of the infection.
The Brussels-North station deals with waste water from a population of around 1.1 million, and thus provides a representative sample of the health of the region. And the conclusion?
“These data indeed show that the fourth wave is rapidly gaining momentum,” Koenraad Van Hoorde of Sciensano told Bruzz.
For the whole country, six of the ten municipalities with the highest number of infections are from Brussels: Molenbeek, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Evere, Anderlecht, Schaerbeek and St-Josse. Also on the list were neighbouring Vilvoorde and Drogenbos.
Oddly, tiny Tenneville in Luxembourg province heads the list with its 3,000 population.