The coronavirus situation in Belgium is continuing to improve, however, the government is cautious to cheer too soon, as the Omicron variant is rapidly circulating in the country.
Between 14 and 20 December, an average of 189.7 patients suffering from Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals per day, a 30% decrease since the last seven days, according to figures published by the Sciensano Public Health Institute on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, a total of 2,646 people were in hospitals due to an infection (37 more than on Sunday), including 732 Covid-19 patients that were being treated in intensive care (-12), with 420 on a ventilator (-8).
The number of new cases being recorded is also continuing to drop. Between 11 and 17 December, an average of 8,635 new coronavirus infections were identified every day, down by 35% from the previous seven days.
However, the number of tests taken in the same period also decreased, by 19% since last week, to 75,448.1. Meanwhile, the positivity rate has also dropped after surpassing 16% and now sits at 13.4%.
During the same period, the number of people dying as a result of the virus also declined, by 19%, with an average of 38.1 Covid-19 patients dying per day. This brings the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in Belgium to 27,992.
Despite the coronavirus situation improving in Belgium, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said ahead of Wednesday’s Consultative Committee that Belgium’s authorities are “thinking very hard” about the possibility of taking lockdown measures similar to those taken in the Netherlands.
He argued that having a high vaccination rate alone is not enough to fight the Omicron variant, which now accounts for about one-fifth of all detected Covid-19 cases in Belgium.
The reproduction rate (Rt) has dropped even further to 0.79, after sitting above one for weeks. This figure represents the average number of people that contract the virus from each infected person, and when it is lower than 1, it means that the epidemic is slowing down in Belgium.
The incidence, which indicates the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, has decreased by 37% and now sits at 1,334.7 over the past 14 days.
As of Sunday, more than 8.76 million people are fully vaccinated, accounting for 88% of the adult population in Belgium, and 76% of the total population.
Meanwhile, almost 3.37 million people have received a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine, representing 37% of over -18s and 29% of the entire population. The majority of adults should have had the opportunity to get a booster dose by March 2022.