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327 COVID-19 deaths in past 24 hours

Belgium’s crisis centre has announced the latest figures with regard to the coronavirus emergency in Belgium.  The death toll rose by 327 in a day.  219 of these deaths were recorded in care homes for the elderly.

139 deaths occurred in Flanders, 118 in Wallonia with 70 in Brussels. 67% of yesterday's deaths occurred in care homes.

So far 3,346 deaths have been linked to the disease.  55% of deaths occurred in hospital, 42% in care homes.

In all 1,262 patients are in intensive care.  That's 16 fewer than the day before.

421 people were hospitalised on Friday.  5,635 people are in a Belgian hospital with COVID-19.  That’s up 25 on the day. 416 patients were discharged.  In all 5,986 patients have now been discharged.

1,351 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed: 756 in Flanders, 437 in Wallonia and 149 in Brussels.  So far 28,018 people have tested positive in Belgium.

Virologist Steven Van Gucht recognises that the Belgian death toll seems higher than in other countries: “We wish to emphasize that at the minute it isn’t easy to compare mortality figures in different countries.  The figures depend on testing strategies, test capacity and how figures are reported in each country.  We report confirmed and suspected cases.”

“We may have put the put the peak of the epidemic behind us, but mortality figures remain high.  We must distinguish between hospitals and care homes.  In hospitals mortality figures have remained stable for two weeks now.  In care homes we see a steady increase since the beginning of April.”

“We must continue to monitor this situation closely.  We must do everything to stem the spread of coronavirus in care homes.  We expect the death toll to rise further in coming days.”

With regard to mouth masks Prof Van Gucht said that wearing a mouth mask could be part of an exit strategy for the corona measures when in a couple of weeks several measures are relaxed. “People will come close to one another once again and a mouth mask may help to slow the spread of the virus.  This isn’t appropriate at the moment, but we are seriously considering this idea.”

On average patients remain in intensive care for three weeks: “It varies greatly from patient to patient.  It may be only several days or more than three weeks” Prof Van Gucht added.

“Among patients in hospital in the 65 to 80 age category there are more men than women.  We have indications that men are more susceptible to complications and suffer more from the virus.  In the over 80s category there are more women as there are more women among the over 80s.”  

Meanwhile the Belgian science institute Sciensano has modified its guidelines for care home workers following the results of the first coronavirus tests there.  Care home workers who test positive for coronavirus may continue at work in COVID-19 areas as long as they do not display symptoms and there are staff shortages.