Nicolas Maeterlinck

“House is on fire. We need to act!”

Erika Vlieghe, the infectious diseases expert, has called for a hard-hitting campaign to inform the Belgian public at large more clearly on the consequences of coronavirus and the need for action to stem the pandemic.  

Prof Vlieghe says that many people, who have now come down with Covid, know very little about the disease.  She blames ignorance of the facts and unsuitable behaviour for the rocketing figures. Prof Vlieghe is the former head of GEES, the panel that advised the governments on corona measures.

Daily averages of new cases have reached 2,100 with 3,000 people testing positive on some days.  In recent weeks family doctors have noticed the increase.  Now hospitals are sounding the alarm. Prof Vlieghe argues that in order to keep the pressure the hospitals are under sustainable in the long run action is now required.

Prof Vlieghe is one of the members of Celeval, the body that currently advises the authorities on corona measures.  Celeval is busy creating a barometer that links measures to the severity of the virus in particular areas.

She says that when the barometer is introduced communication will be key: “Our clear impression is that many people who now fall ill know very little about the pandemic and corona measures. Many people are particularly confused by the wealth of measures.  They don’t believe the epidemic will affect them and people have been downplaying the threat in recent weeks.”

“People have resumed normal life because they don’t think it will get that bad. In contrast the virus is now resurging.”

“We need a new, hard-hitting campaign to try and reach people that are hard to reach.”

Belgian health minister Vandenbroucke has advised everybody to limit contacts outside the household to three people a month.  The official figure is currently 5.

Prof Vlieghe explains that the ‘3 contacts outside the household’ is the figure on the barometer in areas that are colour-coded orange: “In red zones the limits are even more severe” she adds.

 

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