People have more high-risk contacts than they should, Crisis Centre warns
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People have more high-risk contacts than they should, Crisis Centre warns

Credit: Belga

People in Belgium are no longer strictly complying with the restrictions on social contacts, health officials stated during a press conference on Friday.

Infection and hospitalisation figures continue to go up, especially among the active population, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. “The increase in the number of infections combined with the decreasing number of tests clearly indicates an increased circulation of the virus.”

The rising figures may be due to the emergence of the more infectious variants, but also to less strict compliance with the measures, according to Van Gucht.

“Contact tracing data and several surveys show that, on average, people have more contacts than a few weeks ago,” he said, adding that infected people report an average of 3.2 risk contacts, compared to 2.5 in November – a 28% increase.

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“We can, in other words, still ensure that the upward trend is reversed, and that we do not break the plateau of the last four months,” said Van Gucht, adding that limiting close contacts is “undoubtedly one of our most important weapons” in the fight against the virus.

The latest edition of the Great Corona Study survey by the University of Antwerp showed that more than anything, people want a larger so-called social bubble as a possible relaxation of Belgium’s measures, with “being able to meet more people (inside or outside)” being indicated most.

“We understand that this is difficult now, but the effort is guaranteed to pay off,” Van Gucht said. “So, hang in there for a few more weeks, better times are sure to come in the spring.”

The Consultative Committee is meeting from 2:00 PM to discuss possible relaxations or changes to the measures, and the expansion of people’s social bubbles (for outdoor activities) is one of the topics on the agenda.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times