STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Professor of infectious diseases “A realistic scenario is that we will see new cases during the coming months”

Over the past few days they have been some encouraging signs among the daily figures relating to the novel coronavirus epidemic in Belgium. Te number of new hospital admissions has stabilised at between 500 and 600 and for the first time at 11am Sunday it was announced that more people (504) had been discharged from hospital than the 499 had been admitted in the 24 hours since the previous COVID-19 figures were announced. 

Speaking in an interview with VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ Professor Steven Callens of Ghent University Hospital described the figures as “encouraging”. However “a stabilisation is not a fall and it is above all a fall in numbers that we want to see”.

Professor Callens added "There is still a large number of people being admitted to hospital. The hospitals can cope, and the initial aim of the measures seems to have been successfully reached. But now the number of new infections must fall to ensure that the virus spread less. This is why it is essential that we stick to the measures”.

Professor Callens went on to say that that the behaviour of the vast majority of the population, the fact that our health system is coping and that testing capacity has been increased are also sources of encouragement.

The more information we have and the more we test the quicker that we will be done with this”.

Professor Callens won’t be drawn on where exactly we currently are on the curve and how far we are from the peak. “This is a new virus and there are a lot of unknown factors”.

He added that a peak in the number of fatalities is yet to come.

Could there be a second peak in the number of infections once the current measures are relaxed?

"There is a risk that this could happen. The big difference is that we would be better prepared. Health workers would be on their guard and the hospitals prepared. The virus would stand less chance of reaching a second peak. However, it is a realistic scenario that new cases will emerged during the coming months and that maybe measures will have to be taken again.”