At the start of this week, a peak in the number of coronavirus deaths in Belgium was recorded, as 20 people died in just two days, “probably” due to the heatwave, according to Sciensano.
Over the past few weeks, Belgium has averaged two to three deaths a day, peaking at five. On Monday and Tuesday, however, nine and eleven deaths were recorded, respectively, according to Sciensano’s dashboard.
“It is true that we are seeing a rise for those days,” virologist Steven Van Gucht told Het Nieuwsblad. “We do not always know the exact causes of all those deaths, but probably the heat has played a role in the past few days,” he added.
The last time a similar number of deaths were being recorded in one day was back in June. Since August, the number of deaths has been slowly going up again, and is currently at an average of 4 per day.
15 of the 20 deceased people were residents in a nursing home. Four of them died in the residential care centre they lived in, the 11 others died in the hospital. Of the 20, 18 were confirmed cases, the other two were suspected.
“The combination of an infection, the heat and the increased ozone concentrations over the last few days could be the cause [of death] for this vulnerable population,” said Van Gucht.
However, while the heat likely plays a role, the care home residents did test positive for the coronavirus. “But we have no indications of any major outbreaks within the residential care centres,” said Van Gucht.