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    Coronavirus: No new restrictions for now

    Epidemiologist Marius Gilbert (ULB) arriving at the Egmont Palace for the meeting © Belga

    The meeting of the consultative committee scheduled for this morning has concluded after an evaluation of the current Covid-19 situation in the country, but without agreeing any new measures to tackle the recent flare-up of cases.

    The committee consists of representatives of the federal and regional governments, but today’s meeting also brought in two experts – from the GEES group of experts, Dr Erika Vlieghe, and Karine Moykens, who chairs the committee on contact tracing.

    Also present were representatives from the health institute Sciensano, the inter-federal crisis centre and the Risk Management Group.

    As well reported this morning, the number of cases of new infections rose today for the eleventh day in a row, with the latest daily average standing at 207. New patients are younger, particularly in the age groups 20-29 and 50-59.

    Hospital admissions continue to fall, as do fatalities, but that is now more of a question of young people being affected than at the peak of the epidemic. And the younger you are, the less serious your symptoms are likely to be – in general.

    It had been reported that the committee might be considering some kind of strengthening of the measures still in place, such as ensuring proper distancing in cafes and restaurants, where the rules are not always scrupulously observed.

    But no new measures were decided.

    Analysis shows that the upsurge in the epidemic is shown at this stage by several particularly localised problems and not by a general dispersion,” the committee said in a statement.

    Health figures are therefore influenced by focused epidemiological centres, linked to particular events and/or social circles. Lack of knowledge or less strict adherence to the ‘golden rules’ and barrier gestures are frequently the trigger. At the same time, the indicators on hospitalizations and deaths are stable.”

    The golden rules referred to are as they have always been: strict hand hygiene, activities out of doors where possible, special attention for vulnerable groups, social distancing, a limit of 15 people a week in one’s bubble, and no gatherings of more than 15 people.

    In addition, wearing a face mask where required, and in any situation where social distancing is not possible.

    One small change was announced: the health institute Sciensano will release figures more often to show daily counts of infections, hospital admissions and deaths, as well as weekly averages, which many people found confusing. The institute will also hold press conferences again, though not on a daily basis.

    The national security council will meet again on Thursday to take a measure of the situation at that time.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times