Covid-19 outbreaks in Flanders raise concerns over more infectious strain
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Covid-19 outbreaks in Flanders raise concerns over more infectious strain

Credit: Belga

Several coronavirus outbreaks in Flanders are raising concerns about a possible variant of the virus, microbiologist Herman Goossens warned on Sunday.

The outbreaks occurred in the area known as the Kempen, with sharp increases in infections in Wuustwezel, Duffel and Lier (all in the province of Antwerp) among other places, while infections in Belgium as a whole have been decreasing.

Samples taken in the region showed the presence of the so-called D614-G mutation. A recent article on this mutation in the scientific journal Science drew “the conclusion that it causes greater contagiousness,” Goossens told De Tijd.

That article was based on laboratory experiments, however, and “it is still too early to draw definite conclusions,” Goossens said.

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The D614-G variant might explain the “explosive outbreak” in a nursing home in Mol, though, he told VRT. At that nursing home, 26 people have died following an event to celebrate Sinterklaas.

Further sequencing research should determine whether the D614-G mutation was involved in all outbreaks in the region.

In the meantime, hospitals in the region have been told to be extra careful in terms of self-protection, though “you take measures against the coronavirus, not against one specific variant,” virologist Marc Van Ranst said in De Tijd.

“We already have very strict rules, if they are followed properly they should also work against possible variants,” Van Ranst added.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times