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1,298 new confirmed cases of corona in 24 hours

Belgian health officials have announced a big rise in the number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country: up 1,298 on the day.

A further 536 people have been taken to hospital.  42 new deaths are reported.

In all 2,652 people are now in hospital with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.  605 of these are in intensive care.  675 people have left hospital alive.  In all 220 people have died so far.

60% of the 0-44 year-olds in hospital have no underlying health complaints.

The total number of confirmed infections stands at 6,235, but the real figure will be many times higher because only a small number of the people with symptoms are tested.

Virologist Steven Van Gucht attached to Belgium’s national security council told Belgian media: “We are getting lots of queries about when we expect the number of new infects to peak.  This heavily depends on the evolution of the figures.  The models we are using predict a peak at the beginning of April.”

“This will happen on condition that we all limit our contacts by half.  We are not quite sure by how much we have now reduced our contacts. It may be more.  It may be less.”

“If there has been a reduction of more than 50% the peak will come earlier.  If it’s less the peak will occur later and the outbreak will last longer.

“We also clearly realise that when we reach the peak we are only half way as far as the outbreak is concerned.  Difficult weeks will follow.

Steven Van Gucht also noted that at the minute there is no medicine to deal with corona: “There’s no evidence any medicine has proved to be effective against corona.  Several medicines are being tried in hospitals as part of research.  True healing power still needs to be proved.”

“Consequently there is no point in searching for medicines on the internet or to taking drugs. We’d like to underline that antibiotics don’t work against viral infections.”

Yves Stevens of the National Crisis Centre says: “People now need to find routine in this difficult situation.  Accepting this exceptional situation and adapting ourselves in our private lives and professionally will make us more resilient as a society.”

“I am calling on everybody to take and maintain their responsibility: as much as possible stay at home.”