‘Two major scenarios’ on the table for after Easter pause, says Van Gucht
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‘Two major scenarios’ on the table for after Easter pause, says Van Gucht

Credit: Belga

As Belgium’s coronavirus infection figures are slowly decreasing, experts are considering “two major scenarios” that could happen after the so-called Easter pause.

After the four-week Easter pause, the figures will have either dropped enough for relaxations, or Belgium will be stuck on a plateau, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

In the pessimistic scenario: “The number of hospital admissions reaches a plateau of more than 200 per day,” he said during a press conference on Friday. “That would be a lot higher than after the second wave.”

In the optimistic scenario: The gradual drop continues and the figures could dip below the threshold of 100 hospital admissions per day, by the end of April or the beginning of May.

“In that case, relaxing the measures will again be possible from late April or early May,” Van Gucht added.

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Additionally, while we can keep track of the new infections, hospitalisations, patients in ICU, deaths and vaccinations, the most important parameter cannot be measured, according to him.

“The curves depend on the extent to which the measures are complied with,” he said. “And we have to take care of that ourselves, all of us.”

The next meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee will likely be held next week, and is expected to discuss developments ahead of schools restarting on 19 April. An exact date is not known yet, and it still unclear if the planned relaxations – such as the reopening of the hospitality industry on 1 May – will also be discussed.

The experts advising the government had previously set the thresholds for possible relaxations at 800 new infections and 75 new hospital admissions per day, but the authorities abandoned those during the previous Consultative Committees until the emergency brake had to be pulled again.

Van Gucht emphasised to the Belga news agency that politicians no longer want to be pinned down to concrete threshold values before making decisions about relaxations.

That is why it is particularly important to look at the trend and the increasing rate of vaccination, according to him.

“If we continue to follow the measures well, we will be able to gradually allow some relaxation in the second half of April or early May,” Van Gucht said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times