Strict coronavirus measures will have to remain in force in Belgium until there is a vaccine, the country's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned on Wednesday.
During his visit to a hospital in Aalst with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, De Croo said that "we are going to have to be a lot stricter with [the measures] than during the summer until there is a vaccine."
While he did not specify which restrictions exactly he was referring to, he said he learnt from what happened when the measures were relaxed relatively quickly during the first wave, adding that strict measures will have to remain in force "for months to come."
"This time, we have to keep the figures down when they have decreased," De Croo said. "Until we have a solution, a vaccine, we are going to have to be a lot stricter. But we do not know when that will be."
Bezoek @OLVZaalst en @ASZ_Ziekenhuis, samen met ons Koningspaar en de minister van Volksgezondheid.Indringende gesprekken met het zorgpersoneel die opnieuw alles geven om zoveel mogelijk mensenlevens te redden. We kunnen hen steunen door zelf de regels te volgen. pic.twitter.com/LnOf5Amsqx — Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) November 4, 2020
"If the virus has a limited spread in the population, you can intervene, but it has spread too widely in our country, prompting a response like this," De Croo said.
When the effect of the measures will become visible in the figures, the rules cannot be relaxed yet, according to him. "We will have to make it very clear that the figures will have to decrease for a very, very long time," he said. "That will require a very great effort from all of us."
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First major vaccination campaigns expected to start in spring
“We hope that the first results of the trials will be announced sometime in November-December,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht during a press conference on Wednesday morning. He added that Belgium and the European Commission are negotiating to make sure the Belgian market will be supplied with sufficient vaccines.
If everything goes according to plan, Belgium can expect to launch the first major vaccination campaigns “sometime in spring next year,” probably sometime between March and June, according to Van Gucht.
“In the beginning, however, we will not have enough to vaccinate everyone, which is why it is important to set certain priorities,” Van Gucht said, adding that healthcare workers will be among the first groups to be vaccinated, as are people over the age of 65, and people with underlying illnesses.
The Brussels Times