Image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow)—the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the US, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in a lab. Credit: NIAID-RML (CC BY 2.0)
Reference laboratories have run detailed tests on 500 strains of virus introduced into Belgium at different points, said inter-federal spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.
Speaking at the daily press conference on the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium on Saturday, Van Gucht added that the rapid application of confinement measures had prevented the various strains from spreading wider and faster.
“There is, therefore, no dominant strain in Belgium, just ‘local epidemics of certain strains’,” he added. “We took measures against the epidemic on time, thus preventing any one strain from taking over the others and spreading on a wider scale. This proves not only that we took measures at the right time, but also that they are still more necessary than ever,” he said, adding that there is “no virus strain specific to Belgium.”
However, the situation in Belgium was different from that of other countries, said inter-federal spokesperson Emmanuel André. “When a virus spreads within the population, you’ll see the same virus nationwide,” he explained. “It would show that we haven’t taken enough early action against the virus. That’s what you see in some countries where the same virus strain manages to spread just about everywhere.”
In Belgium, genetic tests conducted thus far show that the virus did not come into the country at a single location, but a multitude of different points. “That’s when there was local transmission around these different viruses, but these transmissions were very limited,” Emmanuel André said.
“That’s when we took confinement measures. If we had not taken these measures on time, we would have had major spreading of the virus within the community and we would have been in a much tougher situation today.”
The two experts recalled, however, that even if the measures adopted were effective, targeted measures still needed to be applied.
The Brussels Times