Over half of coronavirus infections in Belgium are the British variant
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Over half of coronavirus infections in Belgium are the British variant

Credit: Belga

Experts estimate that 53% of the contaminations recorded during the last week in Belgium were caused by the British variant of the coronavirus, Steven Van Gucht said on Friday at the press conference of the Sciensano Public Health Institute and the Crisis Centre. The previous week that figure was 38%.

“The British variant is still circulating,” the virologist said.

The South African and Brazilian variants remain in the minority and are only responsible for 2.2% and 0.9% of infections, respectively.

General figures relating to Covid-19 are also on the rise in Belgium, with an average of 2,293.7 contaminations per day last week (an increase of 24%).

“We are therefore at the same level as at the end of January,” said Van Gucht.

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The increase is present in all provinces, with the strongest increases being observed in Namur (an increase of 40%) and Walloon Brabant (up by 39%). East Flanders has the highest number of infections with 386 cases per day, followed by Antwerp and Brussels.

The increases are present in all age groups except those over 80, where the number of infections has fallen by 2%. The infection rate has fallen by 15% for those in their 90s. The largest increase is seen in people in their 40s and 50s, with an increase of 34 for both groups.

The number of new hospitalizations is also on the rise. Last week, an average of 125.6 people were admitted to hospital per day (up 4%), which is comparable to the figure from two weeks ago, said Van Gucht. In the Brussels-Capital Region, the number of admissions increased by 39%.

Van Guncht said that the threshold of 200 daily admissions could be exceeded today, a figure that hasn’t been reached since the end of December last year.

Currently 1,761 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized in Belgium (an increase of 11%), including 368 in intensive care (up 17%).

“In comparison, two weeks ago, there were only 300 patients in intensive care,” said Van Gucht. “The precise reasons for this increase are still being examined, but it could be due to outbreaks of infection in a few hospitals.”

The increase in the number of intensive care patients is evident in several provinces, but it is more pronounced in Brussels and East Flanders.

“East Flanders currently has nearly one in five patients in intensive care,” said Van Guncht.

The number of deaths, however, continues to decline.

Last week, there was an average of 28 Covid-19 deaths per day (down 30%).

“This decrease is mainly due to a drop in deaths in nursing homes, where the death toll has almost halved in one week with -47%. In the general population, we see only a slight decrease of 2%,” Van Gucht said.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times