Belgium seems to have reached a new tipping point in the coronavirus epidemic, as the country seems to be past the peak of the number of new infections, health officials stated during a press conference on Friday.
The increase in the number of new coronavirus infections - while still rising - is slowing down, and the weekly averages will likely start dropping within a few days, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.
"We seem to have reached a new tipping point in the epidemic," he said. "The peak of the number of infections of this third wave seems to be on Monday 22 March, with 6,279 infections in one day."
However, he stressed that the expected drop is no reason for people to change their behaviour and be less strict about following the rules, referring to the thousands of people who gathered in Brussels Bois de la Cambre on Thursday.
"After all, hospitals are still full and the number of admissions continues to rise, including in intensive care," Van Gucht added, with currently 790 Covid patients in ICUs.
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"The number of people needing intensive care will soon exceed 800, and possibly even 900 beds," he said, adding that several hospitals already have to refer patients to other hospitals.
"The situation is tough there, and it is our behaviour today that will determine how fast that load will decrease in April," he said. "With the current measures, we have a major impact on the tail end of the third wave. A tail that could potentially be very long and heavy."
Van Gucht underlined that what people choose to do right now, determines the number of hospital admissions in two weeks, which in turn impacts the strictness of the necessary measures.
"What we do today will determine the prospects for education and for the planned relaxations in May," he said, referring to the 1 May date that was put forward to reopen the hospitality sector.
"A slight drop in infections does not mean that the course has been set," he said. "Remember the basic rules, limit your contacts and let the vaccine do the rest."
The Brussels Times