The fourth wave has reached its peak in the Brussels-Capital Region, but the region’s health authorities are holding their breath for the effects of the new and highly infectious Omicron variant.
As of Tuesday, the reproduction rate (Rt) for Brussels dropped below 1 to 0.93. This means that the strength of the epidemic is now decreasing, Inge Neven of the Brussels Health Inspectorate said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We see that Brussels has now also reached the peak. It is a little later than in Flanders and Wallonia, but the peak is also lower here than in the other regions,” she said.
Additionally, the test positivity ratio (the percentage of positive tests taken) in Brussels is currently at 13.8% – below the Belgian average of 16.3%, according to figures by the Sciensano national health institute.
While this paints a cautiously optimistic picture for Brussels, Neven stressed that the “necessary attention and concern” should be given to the rising Omicron variant.
“In Brussels as in other regions, there are already quite a number of Omicron cases,” she said, adding that experts – such as microbiologist Emmanuel André –predict that the new variant will be the dominant one by the end of this year or the beginning of January.
“We are using intensive tracing in order to quarantine and follow up on these people and their high-risk contacts,” Neven said.
She stressed the need to comply with health measures and called attention to the drive to vaccinate more people in Brussels – both with first doses and booster shots – to counter the Omicron variant.
“This way, we hope to bring infections and the pressure on hospitals down quickly, before this Omicron variant starts putting pressure on our healthcare system again,” said Neven.