The worst-case scenario for the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium would mean hospitalising 2,000 to 3,000 people, including 500 to 700 in intensive care, virologist Steven Van Gucht, head of the Coronavirus Scientific Committee, said on Tuesday.
These figures are comparable to those of a bad flu season, explained Van Gucht. In such a scenario, the available hospitalization capacity would need to be fully utilized, he added.
The situation could have been problematic if it had come at the same time as seasonal influenza but, luckily, this year’s flu peak is over, and the outbreak was not as severe as it has been in preceding years.
According to a Chinese study done on the first cases of Covid-19, special attention needs to be paid to senior citizens, among whom the fatality rate in hospitals is 15%, which is similar to the rate for influenza. Children, another high-risk category, seem more resistant to the virus.
Van Gucht does not, however, expect such a high fatality rate. The Chinese province of Hubei, where the first cases were detected, was not prepared for the outbreak, and local authorities were late in reacting, he recalled.