Another lockdown: More impact, but at higher cost, says Steven Van Gucht
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Another lockdown: More impact, but at higher cost, says Steven Van Gucht

Credits: Belga

Imposing further restrictions would ‘be appropriate’ considering the rising figures, but imposing stricter measures including a lockdown would come at a cost, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

He emphasised that the coronavirus infection risk is currently at the highest level in four months and that this calls for more restrictions.

“It is clear the dynamics of the current curve have to be broken in time, but this can be done in moderation. If you choose stricter measures, this will have more impact in less time, but those will also entail more costs,” Van Gucht said on Tuesday during a press conference of the Crisis Centre.

He added that in this situation everything comes at a price and that these are important and political decisions that have to be made, but said that he has no clarity on the duration of a possible lockdown if Belgium did decide to shut down again as it did in March last year.

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Van Gucht referred to the stricter measures imposed in France and Germany, which announced on Tuesday it is extending its lockdown until 18 April and will impose tougher restrictions during the Easter break.

The Consultative Committee previously gathered one week in advance last Friday to re-evaluate the current and planned measures, but “whether these changes were sufficient or not, will remain to be seen,” said Van Gucht.

The increase in infection rates is not yet exponential, Van Gucht said, as it is doubling every two weeks rather than every week, which was the case during the first wave.

However, he said the situation in hospitals and in intensive care units is worsening, as the number of people in ICU now is “similar to the figures reported in September and October, before the second wave.”

At the moment, there are around 600 people in intensive care, more than double the figure reported at the start of February, Van Gucht said.

He emphasised that stricter measures can help in this situation, but that the power to prevent figures from further developing lies in our hands to keep distance from people and to limit the number of close contacts we have.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times