Belgium’s coronavirus death toll was readjusted to a lower figure, after the number of deaths in residential care centres in Flanders was reviewed, health officials explained during a press conference on Wednesday.
“At the start of the epidemic, from March to June, the Agency for Care and Health in Flanders only collected grouped figures on deaths in residential care centres, meaning that a lot of individual data was missing,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, referring to the exact date of death, and the gender and age of the deceased people.
Now, the Agency requested all this initially missing data from the residential care centres, to provide more information about those 2,663 deaths that took place in the centres.
Due to this new information, 352 deaths have been added that had not been reported yet, but 473 have also been removed from the count.
“This is because many of them were reported twice, once by the residential care centre, and once by the hospital. Sometimes the cause of death was not related to Covid-19 after all, those deaths have also been removed from the figures,” Van Gucht said.
As a result, 121 deaths have been removed from the total count in Belgium. “It concerns 120 deaths in Flanders and 1 in Brussels.”
The total number of deaths in Flemish residential care centres comes to 2,623 after the adjustment. “This brings the total for the whole period in Belgium to 9,878,” he added.
Additionally, creating a more complete picture of the profile of the deceased people is also possible because of the new information, according to Van Gucht.
“53% of the total number of deaths are women. In most age categories, more men than women have died, but among the people over 85, this is reversed and more women than men have died. That is because, in that age category, there are simply more women than men,” he said.
54% of the deaths were of people over 85 years of age, and the average age is 83 years old. “The peak of deaths is also a bit earlier now: on 8 April, instead of 12 April, and is also a bit lower. On April 8, 321 people died as a result of Covid-19,” Van Gucht said.