Infections reach 'plateau' in Brussels

There has been a further fall in the number of new cases of coronavirus diagnosed over the past week.  On average 430 new cases were recorded each day between 21 and 27 August, the latest seven-day observation period.

The figure is down 14% on the week.  There has also been a drop in the number of people who are being hospitalised.  On average there are now 15 hospitalisations linked to coronavirus every day. This compares to an average of 24 only a week ago. The figure is down 40% on the week.

Fewer people are dying of coronavirus too.  During the last observation period there were 4 deaths a day on average.  This compares to an average of 6 deaths in the previous period.

Belgium has now recorded over 85,000 cases of coronavirus.

At today’s news conference by the national crisis centre virologist Steven Van Gucht looked back at the past summer.  He noted that making an effort, like in Antwerp, had made a difference. Starting mid-July Antwerp Province faced an exponential increase in the number of infections with cases more than doubling every week.

Steven Van Gucht: “Greater focus on the situation in Antwerp in the media, recommendations by the local authorities and additional measures introduced by the security council (e.g. a curfew and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants) and the collective effort made after this resulted in a flattening of the curve from 26 July onwards. Without action 700 cases a day would have been reached in Antwerp Province.  The flattening of the curve kept levels under 300 a day.  Meanwhile infection numbers in Antwerp Province have now fallen to 100 a day.”

The Brussels Region is the second area where an important increase in cases was recorded starting 27 July.

Steven Van Gucht: “We see the curve starting to flatten around 10 August.  Without additional measures the curve would have risen easily leading to 300 cases a day by 23 August.  The present number is 112 a day.  Brussels has now reached a plateau”.

Meanwhile PM Wilmès has instructed the group of experts advising the government to revisit the bubble concept.  You will remember that your household is only supposed to be in close contact with five other people from forming your bubble.

Ms Wilmès has been keen to reiterate the government’s message of the need to limit contacts and when you are in contact with others to keep your distance and wear a face covering.

The bubble with five contacts is an “indication” she said.

“We need to work on the new normal because the virus won’t go away.  It doesn’t matter what we call it but we will have to reduce contacts for a lengthy period.  It’s important we realise the virus spreads when we are in close contact.”

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