After a continued rise in the number of daily hospital admissions in Belgium over the past four weeks, the number of new hospitalisations has started dropping, health officials stated during a press conference on Friday.
Despite the positive trend in terms of new admissions, almost all beds in intensive care are taken, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.
"The challenge is not to get stuck on a plateau, but to resolutely choose a way down," he said, urging everyone "not to be discouraged by images of people not following the rules."
"In terms of new hospital admissions, we are seeing a modest decrease of 3%, but we expect this to increase," Van Gucht said.
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However, on Wednesday, the highest number of new Covid-19 hospital admissions in one day (332) was recorded since the second wave.
Van Gucht stressed that this is probably due to the effect of the extended weekend of Easter and Easter Monday, when typically, fewer people are admitted.
"We are seeing a decrease in admissions in Flanders (-10%) and Brussels (-13%). In Wallonia, it is still rising by +11%," he said. "We expect to see negative figures there as well."
The burden on hospitals, however, is still very heavy, according to Van Gucht, which is also partly because there are more accidents at work and in traffic, so people have to be treated in ICU.
"The accredited beds are almost all taken up," he said, adding that if the number of patients continues to increase, extra beds will have to be created in ICU and there will be more cuts in non-CCU care.
"This means that some hospitals have to refer patients to other hospitals. The burden on the staff is very heavy," Van Gucht added. "We want to wish them courage. This third sustained wave is hitting them hard."
The Brussels Times