“Belgium ill-suited to tackle second wave”

Three of the country’s leading experts have borne witness to the country’s unpreparedness for a second wave of coronavirus.  Providing evidence to the Flemish parliament they spoke of a lack of a unified command, a shortage of testers and contact tracing that is going awry.

Virologists Erika Vlieghe and Marc Van Ranst and microbiologist Herman Goossens are all worried a lack of unitary command means the country will fail to respond quickly in the second wave. The three experts join the many voices pointing to the fragmented approach to the crisis as a result of the division of powers.  Flemish lawmakers had asked them to provide their best advice.

“There are too many levels, too many committees and there is no unitary line of command” Prof Van Ranst told MFPs.  “We need a very good preparation for the second wave. A lot of hard work is being done, but once again everybody is getting tied up in this tangle: who is allowed to do what and on which decision level?” says Prof Vlieghe. “We need a captain on the bridge!”

Prof Goossens says it’s given a second wave is on the way.  Prof Vlieghe too remains worried: “Society is back open.  There are all kinds of parties and it’s like there’s no problem at all”.

Prof Goossens warns there’s a shortage of testing staff, labs as well as the required testing products.  He called for one body to decide testing strategy and for more cash to be released:

“Surely we’re not going to complain about a couple of tens of millions of euros when you see the cost of the lockdown?”

Prof Goossens suggests people should be encouraged to test themselves to ease pressure on doctors and nurses.

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