Belgium lacks ‘clarity and transparency’ on Covid figures
Tuesday, 15 September 2020
Credit: Belga/BENOIT DOPPAGNE
The Belgian government has been called out for a lack of clarity and transparency concerning coronavirus figures in a new letter from several medical experts at the UGhent and the University Hospital of Ghent.
According to the letter’s signatories, which include the dean of the Medicine Faculty and the head doctor at the Ghent University Hospital, there is a need to adjust how figures are communicated.
“We want the flow of information to the population to be as complete and clear as possible. Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to continue to follow all the measures. Either you will get panic, or you will get a couldn’t-care-less attitude.”
According to experts, the focus on the number of new infections per day is not ideal without a clear indication of how many people are being tested at all times.
“800 new cases out of a total of 800 tests is a bit different from 800 cases out of 8,000 tests,” said Piet Hoebeke, the dean of the Medicine Faculty. “Let’s make the information comprehensible, so people know what they are doing and for which reason.”
Additionally, the figures are not necessarily transparent enough, they write. For example, it is not clear to which groups infected people belong, and whether they also have underlying conditions – such as diabetes, for example.
“We believe that people are willing and able to do a lot, provided that they know on what basis efforts are being asked for and what they will lead to,” they wrote.
“Hence our plea for full and honest interpretation based on (evolving) scientific insight, for maximum access to relevant data and for formulating concrete short- and long-term objectives.”