‘Will not go away by itself’: Calls for stricter coronavirus measures mounting

‘Will not go away by itself’: Calls for stricter coronavirus measures mounting
Credit: Belga/ Eric Lalmand

From intensive care unit physicians to virologists and general practitioners, the urgent calls for the government to impose additional coronavirus fighting measures are growing.

On Monday, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said the Consultative Committee will impose additional measures, but only if figures get worse than predictions have estimated, which is not the case at the moment.

According to several experts, however, the country is already at a critical point, as “one period of growth follows another. This is getting very dangerous, we can't really handle it,” said biostatistician Geert Molenberghs (UHasselt and KU Leuven).

He emphasised that currently, we are heading towards 900 to 1,000 occupied beds in intensive care units, which is “far too high to be comfortable,” Molenberghs warned on VRT’s “De Ochtend”. 

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"Surely it is now important to intervene quite quickly if we want to keep the occupancy in the hospitals at least somewhat under control," he added.

According to a physician on the intensive care unit at the Jessa Hospital in Hasselt, Jasperina Dubois, Belgium could reach the maximum capacity of these places reserved for Covid-19 patients in ten or 14 days' time.

She highlighted that patients coming into ICU are younger and they are also becoming sicker than in previous months, meaning a higher proportion of the patients who have to go to hospital end up in intensive care.

She added that she cannot comment on what politicians should decide at the moment, but that this problem “will not go away by itself.”

'Every day counts'

Other experts have openly spoken out about how the government should be imposing stricter measures, including virologist Johan Neyts who took to Twitter pleading for "serious measures".

"Without serious measures, things will not get better," he wrote. “We need action now. Every day counts.”

He pointed to the daily increase in infections, hospital admissions, and patients in intensive care, saying “ICU will soon be full again. The patients are really sick and often lie there for many weeks, sometimes months."

On Monday, the coronavirus commission will present a new memo to the federal government on the current state of the crisis, according to De Morgen, which reported that infection rates haven’t been this high since the second wave.

Whether we are at the beginning of a third wave is difficult to say, but virologist Steven Van Gucht from Sciensano said there are now two possibilities: “You can gamble and hope that the figures will stabilise by themselves with soft measures.”

Another Consultative Committee?

The association for general practitioners in Belgium, Domus Medica, has already called on the Consultative Committee to meet before Friday in order to decide on extra coronas fighting measures.

"For the first time since the second wave, we see an enormous increase in the number of consultations and tests," said Roel Van Giel of the GP Association, adding “if we don't act now, we will be heading for a third wave, it sounds like. And the longer we wait, the more only a lockdown remains as a possible measure.”

"If we have learned one thing from this whole epidemic and the previous waves, it is that the moment you see the numbers rising, you have to act. The contamination is happening today, so you have to take measures today", Van Giel said. 

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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