‘Two parallel epidemics’: why number of new patients is not dropping
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‘Two parallel epidemics’: why number of new patients is not dropping

One epidemic is taking place in the general population, the other in the residential care centres. Credit: Belga

The number of new patients infected with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) admitted to hospital per day is stabilising around 200 because there are two parallel epidemics at the moment, according to professor Steven Van Gucht.

The number of new hospital admissions remains stable, but “has not gone down for a few days now,” said virologist Marc Van Ranst on VTM on Saturday, stressing that the number “needs to keep going down […] to under 100 per day” if stores are to be allowed to reopen, as planned, on 11 May.

The number of daily admissions is important because it is one of the conditions that need to be met to transition into the next phase of the exit plan out of Belgium’s lockdown, along with the occupancy rate of the intensive care beds.

Translation: “As a criterion for the start of the exit it is NOT about the number of deaths (as wrongly stated in the newspaper) but about the number of new hospital admissions. This number hasn’t dropped for a week and remains above 200 per day.”

“It is true that the number of hospitalisations seems to stabilise in the zone of 200 admissions per day, in the past days,” said inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. “I very much hope that this will drop further in the next few days, but it is remarkable,” he added.

In general, the average age of the people newly-admitted to hospitals in rising. “Possibly, this has to do with the fact that there are actually two parallel epidemics going on right now,” said Van Gucht. “One in the general population, and one in the specific setting of the residential care centres,” he added.

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Fewer people under the age of 70, or even 80, are admitted, percentage-wise, according to Van Gucht. “And the percentage of admissions of people over 80 years old seems to have gradually increased over the past days and weeks,” he added.

At the moment, a large part of the people admitted to a hospital does not come from the general population, but are referred from residential care centres. “We hope that these numbers will also decline soon, and that the figures will evolve favourably,” Van Gucht said.

On Monday, the Federal Public Health Service announced ‘only’ 127 new hospital admissions reported in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since 16 March, bringing the total number of patients admitted to hospital in Belgium to 3,968.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times