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Lockdown is the only option Belgium has left, expert warns

Credit: Belga

A second lockdown is the only option Belgium has left to stop the country’s rapidly rising Covid-19 infection figures and hospitalisations, according to a former Sciensano official.

“We must no longer ask ourselves what we should close. We must ask ourselves what to leave open,” microbiologist and former Sciensano spokesperson Emmanuel André told RTBF on Wednesday. “Today, we have to talk about reconfinement. It is the only tool we have left.”

Belgium is “heading straight to the wall,” with “only a little bit of space left to make societal choices” about which businesses can stay open and which cannot.

The decision to move the country back into confinement should be made quickly, André said, who added that “every day counts” and that “a lockdown is all the more effective when it is set up quickly.”

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As the infections figures, hospitalisations and deaths keep rising sharply, the priority should be making sure that the health system can continue to operate.

However, hospitals are already under a lot of pressure at the moment. “We are in a situation where things are getting out of control,” he said. “People have to realise that when their loved ones are hospitalised, the quality [of care] could be diminished because we are already swamped.”

During a press conference on Wednesday morning, health officials warned that Belgium’s will see over 1,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care by the end of October at this rate. “Without the measures taken, the number of people in intensive care would even rise to 2,000 sometime in the second week of November.”

Most important right now, according to André, is to convince people that their individual efforts make the difference in breaking the infection chain.

“Everyone has to realise that nobody wanted this situation, maybe it could have been avoided,” he said, echoing similar statements by virologist Marc Van Ranst. “We no longer have a choice now. Individual freedom, again, stops today.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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