Virologist Steven Van Gucht: "The situation in intensive care is the most important indicator”

At Monday morning’s COVID-19 press conference the virologist Steven Van Gucht said that the Interfederal Science Institute Sciensano looks at a number of indicators when it makes predictions on eventual temporary capacity issues in hospitals. Professor Van Gucht added that the most important of these is the number of patients on intensive care wards. 

"We must guarantee that there is sufficient capacity at all times to ensure that patients that need it can be treated and saved”.

The aim is that intensive care words should return to normal in the near future and will no longer have to enlist the help of doctors and nursing staff from other wards. Once this is achieved more attention will be able to be paid to the work-life balance of medical staff at hospitals.

Currently around 900 patients are receiving treatment for COVID-19 on intensive care ward in hospitals across Belgium. Professor Van Gucht says that this needs to be reduced by at least half before the situation in hospitals can return to normal.

Steven Van Gucht recognises that the number of beds occupied on intensive care wards is a “late indicator”. People that become ill after having become infected usually don’t end up in intensive care until two weeks later. This is why Sciensano also looks at earlier indicators such as the number of positive tests results, visits to GPs for flu-like ailments and the number of people absent from work through illness.