The number of new coronavirus infections recorded on a daily basis in Belgium has doubled since last week as the country faces the fifth wave.
Between 28 December and 3 January, an average of 13,815 new coronavirus infections were identified every day – up by 96% on the previous seven days, according to figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Friday morning.
Preliminary figures for Monday and Tuesday this week (that have not yet been consolidated) indicate that more than 27,000 new cases were recorded per day, which would be the highest number since the start of the pandemic in Belgium.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee met on Thursday morning to reassess the coronavirus situation and to consider the impact of the Omicron on the pandemic but despite this rapid increase in infections, decided not to implement new measures.
It was announced that the increase in cases will continue for several weeks and that a peak of between 30,000 and 125,000 cases can be expected in mid-January, depending on the testing, which "will present fewer cases than in reality."
The average number of tests taken per day in the same period is slightly up (+5%) from last week, sitting at around 68,386.3. However, the positivity rate has increased more rapidly, with two in 10 coronavirus tests (19.9%) now showing a positive result.
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Meanwhile, the decline in Covid-19 deaths continues. During the same period, an average of 23 Covid-19 patients died per day, down 25% since last week. Total deaths in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 28,446.
Slow increase in hospitalisations continues
Between 31 December and 6 January, an average of 171.7 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals per day – up 28% on the seven days previous. On Monday, 217 new patients were admitted to hospitals due to an infection.
On Thursday, a total of 1,883 people were in Belgian hospitals due to an infection (one more than on Wednesday), of whom 474 are being treated in intensive care (+3) and 264 people are on a ventilator (-8).
The reproduction rate (Rt) has slightly decreased to 1.15. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person, and when it is above 1, it means that the epidemic is gaining ground in Belgium.
The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) has risen to 1,268 over the past 14 days after dropping to just over 850 last week.
As of Tuesday, more than 8.8 million people are fully vaccinated – 88% of Belgium's adult population and 76% of the total population.
Meanwhile, some 4.71 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 51% of over -18s and 41% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.