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Coronavirus: Explaining Belgium’s rising infections

Credit: Belga

The total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, as reported by the Federal Public Health Service every day, keeps growing, but what does that mean?

The total number reflects all people in Belgium who have been confirmed infected by the virus at some point. Importantly, this includes active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

This means that the count also includes the first infected Belgian person, who was repatriated from Wuhan at the start of February, and was released from quarantine and considered recovered before the current outbreak even started in Belgium.

On Thursday 16 April, a total of 34,809 confirmed cases have been counted in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic. However, not all of those are active cases, meaning not all those 34,809 people are infected with the virus right now, or were even infected during the same period.

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Since 15 March, which is when hospitals started regularly reporting their patients and deaths using a uniform system, 7,526 have been discharged and are considered recovered. Additionally, 4,857 deaths have been recorded, according to the FPS Public Health’s figures.

This would bring the number of active confirmed cases in the country at the moment to 22,426. However, not all people with a confirmed infection are admitted to the hospital, and can thus not be included in the “discharged” statistics when they have recovered, leaving the total count of all active cases unclear.

Additionally, not everyone is being tested, and experts have warned that the total number of actual cases is far bigger than the number of confirmed ones. “It is possible that the actual number is ten times higher,” said virologist Marc Van Ranst to VTM News. “This number only shows how many people tested positive,” he added.

The current deadline for the end of Belgium’s lockdown is 3 May. However, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said no one knew when normal life would return in the country. “There is still a long way to go. Our willpower will be put to the test again and again. Let us not be discouraged,” she added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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