If the current favourable trend continues, fewer than 400 Covid-19 patients will be admitted to ICUs in Belgian hospitals by 7 June, health officials stated during a press conference on Friday.
On Thursday, the number of patients in intensive care dropped below 500, which was an important condition for the planned relaxations, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson.
"If the descending trend in intensive care continues, we could be under 400 patients in intensive care from 7 June," he said, underlining that hospitals still have "a long way to go" to catch up on the regular care.
The total occupancy rate for regular beds in hospitals also continues to decline "at a relatively stable pace," according to Van Gucht.
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"Currently, 1,366 Covid-19 patients are in hospital, 491 of whom are in intensive care. These are decreases of 17% and 13% respectively on a weekly basis," he added.
The number of new hospital admissions is declining in just about all provinces, with an average of 101 new admissions per day.
"This halves the figures every 23 days, which means that in the first week of June we will be below an average of 75 new admissions per day," said Van Gucht.
However, Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke pointed out that even though the important conditions will be met on time, it remains important to be cautious.
"It is not the case that everything will be possible now," he said on Flemish radio on Friday. "We will still have to avoid having too many contacts, and we cannot sit with 10 people around a table in a bar."
"It's going well, but we're not there yet," Vandenbroucke said. "There is still a great burden in the hospitals. A huge backlog has built up, and according to some estimates, it could take years to catch up with other care."
On top of that, he stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
"The new delay in deliveries is a minor setback, but the main obstacle in the campaign is that people have to get vaccinated," Vandenbroucke said. "There is definitely still work to be done there, and that is the big challenge."