Rising infections see Belgium ‘going in the wrong direction,’ says Van Ranst

Rising infections see Belgium ‘going in the wrong direction,’ says Van Ranst
Credit: Belga

More than 130 new infections have been detected every day in Belgium in recent days, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst, who said the situation is “going in the wrong direction.”

In a tweet, Van Ranst shared that the weekly average has been rising for several days in a row now. “In small steps to 90 new Covid-19 cases per day,” he said.

“However, in the last days, there are more than 130 new cases each time. We should not be rocked to sleep, because this is going in the wrong direction. More attention is desperately needed!” he added.

In the previous phase of the epidemic, the daily figures were communicated every morning. According to Van Ranst, the fact that the authorities have switched to communicating the weekly average is not a positive development.

Infectious disease expert, Erika Vlieghe, who chairs the GEES (Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy) also warned for the pitfalls of this system.

“Sciensano started with those averages at a time when we could clearly see a downward trend,” Vlieghe told Het Nieuwsblad. “That has advantages. It eliminates the peaks, so we don’t have to constantly hear the switch between increasing and decreasing,” she said.

“But in the situation in which we now find ourselves, it is also a serious drawback. We have been observing an increase for several days now, but because we are working with weekly averages, that rise doesn’t seem to be that big at all,” Vlieghe said.

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Whether the increase is due to the relaxation or tightening of a particular measure is not entirely clear, according to the experts.

Even though an increasing number of new infections were reported in the south of West-Flanders and the region around Antwerp, there is no clear common thread in the profile of the new coronavirus patients, according to Vlieghe.

“The spread of new cases occurs across all ages,” said Vlieghe. “The only trend I see is that many people think it’s over. Things are happening that are downright dangerous. People organise parties, which then get out of hand. They really are playing with fire,” she added.

On Wednesday, Belgium’s National Security Council will meet again. What the impact of the increasing number of infections will have on the coronavirus measures, is not yet clear, but the experts will “certainly take [their] concerns to the Council with them,” said Vlieghe.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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