Belgium 'ready' to take stricter measures if infections keep rising

Belgium 'ready' to take stricter measures if infections keep rising
Credit: Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq

Belgium is ready to take stricter measures, if it turns out they are necessary next week, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said during a press conference, as the epidemic is regaining strength in the country.

During the press conference after the National Security Council on Wednesday, Wilmès announced that Belgium's so-called reproduction number (R number) has risen above 1 again, which means that the epidemic is growing again.

Decisions about whether or not Phase 5 will start as planned from 1 August have been pushed back to next week Thursday, 23 July. In the meantime, the reason for the increase in the number of infections will be investigated.

Officially, the R number, according to Belgian health institute Sciensano, is still 0.86. Sciensano takes the hospital admissions into account for the calculation of this figure, which are still decreasing for now, causing the lower estimate.

However, calculated based on the number of new infections - "as it should be done," virologist Marc Van Ranst told VRT - the R number is higher than 1 at the moment, as the figures have risen again.

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"Since the beginning of this month, there has been a resurgence of the virus. Phase 5 has been drawn up and is scheduled to start on 1 August," Wilmès said.

"If the trend is not good, we will not go to Phase 5. We now want to see how the trend evolves. If stricter measures need to be taken in the future, we are ready to do so. A lot has to do with our own behaviour," she added.

According to the experts of the GEES, the R number has risen above 1 again, said Wilmès, meaning that, every infected person infects more than one other person on average, causing the epidemic to grow again.

"We want to see how the situation evolves now. We are trying to find out more about the cause of the resurgence. Then we can take better measures,” she added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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