Belgium is not prepared for second coronavirus wave, says expert

Belgium is not prepared for second coronavirus wave, says expert
Epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme. Credit: Belga

Belgium is not prepared for a second coronavirus wave, said epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme during the coronavirus committee in the Flemish parliament on Friday.

As the infection figures continue to rise, Van Damme pointed out the lack of contact tracing, and pleaded for more unambiguous and targeted communication.

Since this week, the question of whether Belgium was ready for the second wave can be asked, according to Van Damme. “And then I could say, ‘no’. And that is even more disturbing, because we do not have a good excuse for it,” he said.

“On the first wave, you could still say that we did not know. And a lot of countries were in the same situation,” he added.

He also said that some sectors – such as parts of the events sector – will have to remain closed for some time to come.

“Certain sectors will have to understand that they may have to close for a year,” Van Damme said. “We are afraid to say that. It is harsh. But they need to know that, from the beginning. And those sectors will have to be supported,” he said.

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“It is very clear that certain event sectors will not be able to do their job for a year or a year and a half. With the resurgence, we now see that that is the reality,” Van Damme added.

He also criticised the contact tracing system, but said that there was no time for a new one. However, waiting until the end of August, when the system is said to be up and running, is not an option either.

“I am afraid we will be in the second wave then, with exponential consequences,” Van Damme said, adding that a system with more immediate results needs to be discussed.

“We are losing a lot of time at the moment. The virus is reorganising and spreading very efficiently. It is doing the opposite of what we are doing,” he said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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