140 additional people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Friday.
This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 58,907. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.
Presenting the daily figures at the now-weekly Friday press conference, Dr Yves Van Laethem, one of the two spokespersons for the crisis centre, pointed to a study carried out by the health institute Sciensano, which compared the cumulative figures for the past week with those for the previous week.
Taking account of the various indicators – new cases, hospital admissions, ICU cases and fatalities – the tendency over the course of the last week has been a fall in the figures of about 8% a day overall.
69 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 37 live in Wallonia, and 34 live in Brussels.
32 new patients were admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours, and 64 were discharged. The total number of people in hospital because of the coronavirus at the moment is 700. Over the last week, the number of admissions has fallen by 3% a day.
Of the patients in hospital, 137 are in the intensive care unit, eight fewer than yesterday. That figure has fallen by 5% daily over the last week.
29 new deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of people who died because of the coronavirus to 9,566. Of the latest deaths, 15 took place in hospital and 13 in care homes. One case took place elsewhere.
The Sciensano study, which looked at 74% of cases, found a tendency for new patients to be older than at the start of the epidemic, with the average age rising to 71 years, probably as a result of more patients coming from care homes, Dr Van Laethem said.
However that does not necessarily lead to patients in general spending more time in intensive care: half of all ICU patients spend less than a week in the unit. 22% of hospital admissions die, the percentage rising to 42% in ICU, and 57% if placed on a respirator.
Age is still the dominant factor for mortality, with 90% of fatalities among those over 65 years. However the tendency is positive, he said. “We can now go outside safely.”
But he urged continued caution, especially as regards distancing and hygiene, particularly hand hygiene. “Don’t exaggerate, because that would be counter-productive. And continue to protect the most vulnerable,” he advised.
“We have been given a sort of driving licence,” he said. “But even if we no longer have to have someone sitting beside us scrutinising our every move, there are still rules to be followed.”