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What to expect from Belgium’s Consultative Committee

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again on Friday to take stock of the country’s epidemiological situation and assess the first results of the latest measures against the coronavirus.

Even though the virus’ spread is slowing down, and the figures for infections and hospitalisations are “encouraging,” no relaxations of the rules are expected.

“On the agenda is the assessment of the epidemiological situation, with discussions about the latest data,” Tom Meulenbergs, spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, told The Brussels Times. “The situation in the hospitals and intensive care units will be analysed, as will the infection figures.”

The meeting will take place by videoconference on Friday afternoon, starting at 2:00 PM. There is no press conference planned afterwards.

Additionally, discussions about whether the testing strategy will regain sufficient capacity to test asymptomatic people again from 16 November as was initially planned, could also take place. Now that the infection figures are going down again, contact tracing and more testing should once again allow a stricter follow-up of high-risk contacts.

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Minister for Home Affairs Annelies Verlinden already said that it was “too early to announce any relaxations of the measures,” echoing earlier statements by politicians and experts alike that the measures will have to remain in place for longer than during the first wave.

When announcing the lockdown measures on Friday 30 October, De Croo announced that the measures for non-essential shops would be evaluated on 1 December, and that the lockdown would remain in effect until 13 December.

Decisions about relaxations will be made based on scientific advice, according to De Croo. “They will not be made because of pressure, as has too often been the case in the past,” he told RTBF.

On Thursday 12 November, Belgium recorded an average of 7,664 new coronavirus cases and 520 hospital admissions per day. According to Sciensano’s projections, Belgium’s infection figures should drop to approximately 1,000 per day around mid-December, at the current rate.

A similar average has not been recorded since 9 September, at the start of the second wave, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said during a press conference on Wednesday. However, even then, Belgium will “still be very far from the low number that is necessary to be safe,” he said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times