Brussels yet to reach the peak of Omicron wave

Brussels yet to reach the peak of Omicron wave
Brussels' Grand Place. Credit: Belga

Coronavirus infections for Brussels residents aged between 20 and 40 have already up sharply and now cases among the rest of the under-60s in the Capital-Region are also on the rise with the peak not yet in sight.

Currently, the positivity ratio in the testing centres in Brussels is 36% and the trend is upwards; in pharmacies (who take rapid antigen tests), this is as high as 50%.

“We did not even see this during the Delta wave,” the head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate Inge Neven said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

About 12,500 tests are taken each day in Brussels and the trend is also upwards. Since 11 January, however, the testing strategy changed after the testing centres in Belgium – including in Brussels – were at their maximum capacity. As a result, those who had a high-risk contact no longer receive a test code.

“The consequence of that is that we now miss many infections,” said Neven. “The high positivity ratio shows it: the figures are undoubtedly a considerable underestimation of the reality. The virus is now very infectious.”

Infections rising, hospitalisations falling

“We see that there are still a lot of infections among 20 to 40-year-olds, but that the trend is now also rising among 40 to 60-year-olds and schoolgoing teenagers,” Neven said.

However, as in the rest of the country, the high infection figures are not leading to large numbers of hospitalisations in Brussels either, the number of new hospitalisations is even decreasing slightly. “There are many infections, but few severely ill residents.”

In terms of vaccination, Neven said that while Brussels continues to score the lowest of Belgium’s regions, there is still steady progress.

“Of the total Brussels population, 60% have already received two doses. Among the over-18s, this is 73%. Among 65-year-olds, the figure is even as high as 84%. With the booster, we only reach 36% of the over-18s,” she said.

“However, if you look at who has been vaccinated, you can see that half of them have already received their booster. Among the over-65s, this is 80% and among the over-18s who got their first two vaccines, we are already at the halfway mark,” Neven said. “It is going more slowly than in the other regions, but it is going forward.”

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