‘Belgium is not doing a very good job’, Van Ranst tells Dutch press
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‘Belgium is not doing a very good job’, Van Ranst tells Dutch press

Credit: Belga

A Belgian tendency to abuse a loophole is a large part of the reason things got so bad in the country, virologist and government advisor Marc Van Rast has said in a damning interview with Dutch newspaper Volkskrant.

On top of that tendency, a “failing government policy” explains the coronavirus figures in Belgium, Van Ranst said.

“We were much too late with the measures,” he told Volkskrant, underlining the fact that “Belgium is not doing a very good job.”

Belgium has the seventh highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe, behind France, Spain, the UK, Italy, Germany and Poland, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

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“The degree to which the rules are followed is not great,” said Van Ranst, lamenting that “our population has many dissidents.” He noted that “as soon as measures are taken, the first question is whether there are loopholes, and the second question is whether checks are to be carried out.”

“Then the measures are dismissed as ridiculous,” he continued, “and then the experts themselves are discredited. I know that is happening elsewhere, but we have made it an art in Belgium.”

Van Ranst also criticised the way the Belgian state is structured and the fact that there are eight different public health ministers in Belgium, “and I’m quite sure that they don’t even know each other by name.”

He finally warned that “above all, we must not scale things back too quickly,” opining that the hospitality industry should only open once the country gets down to the threshold of 50 new infections per day.

For perspective, the latest daily average reported by Sciensano is 4,911.1 new infections.

Van Ranst frequently comments on the pandemic and has been taken to court by entrepreneurs over “reckless statements” that caused economic damage and confusion among the population.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times