Belgium should have delayed relaxing coronavirus measures by one week, expert says

Belgium should have delayed relaxing coronavirus measures by one week, expert says
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The relaxing of coronavirus measures announced on Wednesday came a week too early as a key tool to allow governments to assess the situation is not ready yet, one expert said.

Maarten Vansteenkiste, a psychologist advising the Celeval experts' cell guiding the government's coronavirus response, said the NSC should have been postponed by a week.

Vansteenkiste said that the relaxation announced by the National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday regarding social contacts, events and quarantine could cause confusion among the general population as they come at a time where infection numbers are rising throughout the country.

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A new measuring system or barometer set to guide authorities in the country on whether to relax or tighten the rules is not quite ready for roll-out yet, Vansteenkiste said in a TV interview which followed the NSC press conference, Le Soir reports.

Vansteenkiste said that the barometer is still missing some fine-tuning especially regarding when and how to trigger a tightening or relaxation of the measures in areas where there was a difference in cases.

"It makes no sense, for example, to apply a code orange to all of Flanders if we only have a flare-up in Limburg," he said.

Vansteenkiste conceded that the announced relaxations were necessary, saying some measures, such as having to wear a face mask when walking alone in the woods, were "not logical."

But he stressed that the barometer was essential, as it would be key to help the population to assess the situation and decide on how they could adapt to it and, since it was not ready, he said that it would have been better if the CNS had been postponed by one week.

Vansteenkiste's comments were echoed by the scientific community in Belgium, with many warning that the relaxation of measures, especially regarding social gatherings, came much too early.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussls Times

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