The average age of persons hospitalised due to infection by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is 71 years, and 53% are men while 47% are women, Sciensano indicated on Friday in its latest report.
The figures are based on clinical data reported by Belgian hospitals for 14,375 patients hospitalised between 29 February and 31 May, the public institution, which specializes in science and health research, said.
Most of the hospitalised patients were aged between 80 and 89 (24.1%), 70 and 79 (20.7%) and 60 to 69 (17.1%), according to the experts, who noted that the patients now in hospital were a little older than at the start of the epidemic. Since the week of 12 to 18 April, the proportion of patients aged 80 or over has topped 40%.
Women admitted to hospital because of the virus are on average older than the men: half of female patients are over 74 years, while one in two male ones is over 68.
The sources of exposure to the virus were varied. For 31% of patients, the source of infection was not identified, in 24% of cases people were infected in nursing homes while 18% contracted COVID-19 after coming into contact with a confirmed case.
The most common symptoms on admission were fever (60%), coughing (51%), shortness of breath (49%) and general weakness (39%), but some patients had digestive symptoms, according to Sciensano.
Among COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital, 13% had stayed in an intensive care unit (ICU). Half of the people who spent time in ICU were over 65 years of age. Their average age was thus lower than the average for all hospitalised patients.
According to the data collected, the risk of death among hospitalized patients increases with age: 90% of hospitalized patients who died were over the age of 64 years. The risk is also higher among men than among women, and among people with underlying conditions.
Finally, COVID-19 deaths peaked after the first confinement measures in Belgium. The highest daily death toll was 343, registered on 12 April.