As is usually the case around this time of year, the Covid-19 situation in Belgium is worsening slowly, with hospitalisations nearing 100 per day, figures published by the Sciensano Institute of Public Health on Tuesday showed.
In the last week, an average of 98.9 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals each day, up 28% since last week and up by an average of almost 20 patients since Friday last week. This figure only includes the number of people hospitalised because of the virus.
The total number of people infected with the virus in Belgian hospitals has risen rapidly to 1,485 – around 280 more than on Friday last week. However, the average number of patients being treated in intensive care in the last week remained relatively stable at around 64.
This figure includes people who were admitted for another reason and later contracted the virus. In light of these rising figures, Belgium's top virologist Steven Van Gucht warned people should take measures where possible to prevent the spread of the virus, such as wearing face masks in crowded places and around elderly people.
Cases, tests and vaccination
Between 3 and 9 December, the average number of new Covid-19 infections recorded per day increased by 19% to 1,382, more than double the figure recorded three weeks ago.
The average number of tests taken per day has risen by 1,000 to about 8,500 per day, while the positivity rate increased to 17.2%, meaning almost more than one in six tests has a positive result.
However, in the same week, the average number of deaths from Covid-19 infections per day has increased rapidly to 6.4 (+114%), but remains relatively low compared to this time last year, when this figure was nearing 50. This is largely due to the rollout of the first and second boosters.
The total number of deaths in Belgium since the start of the pandemic is 33,133; however, this includes people who died of another cause but who were infected, meaning it is an overestimate of Covid-19 deaths.
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The reproduction rate has once again increased to 1.18 from 1.11 last Friday. When this figure is higher than 1, it means that the epidemic is growing. The incidence (the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants) has slightly increased to 154.
As of Saturday, more than 7.22 million people received a first booster dose of the vaccine, representing 76% of over-18s and 62% of the entire population, while more than 3.83 million people also received a second booster dose, equivalent to 41% of over-18s and 33% of the total population.