Nicolas Maeterlinck

Infectious diseases expert Erika Vlieghe doesn’t rule out a second lockdown

During a debate in VRT television’s Sunday topical discussion programme ‘De zevende dag’ the infectious diseases expert Professor Erika Vlieghe, the Governor of Antwerp Province Cathy Berx and the Head of Brussels University Hospital (UZ Brussel) Marc Noppen we all in agreement that tougher measures will be required if the figures on the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium continue to worsen. 

Professor Vlieghe said that during the past few days there had been an exponential rise in the number of new infections recorded. "You need to tell it as it is. This isn’t good”.

Professor Vlieghe, Governor Berx and Dr Noppen all agree that tougher measures are needed if we are to flatten the curve. Cathy Berx suggests limiting the number of close contacts a person is allowed to have to those they share their home with plus a person with whom they are romantically involved with but don’t live with.

The Governor of Antwerp Province also suggests additional restrictions in the leisure and hospitality industries such as limiting the number of seats at restaurant tables to four, closing canteens and shower facilities at sport clubs and banning spectators. Ms Berx says that schools should remain open and that any stricter measures would be brought to avoid schools having to close like they did during the first wave of infections earlier this year.    

Professor Vlieghe believes that at the very least new measures should be considered. She also doesn’t rule out another lockdown.  

"Everyone says that a new lockdown is taboo ‘never again’, but what should be done then? It’s going through the roof and there comes a time when choices have to be made”.

Meanwhile, Dr Noppe believes in the value of better informing groups in society about the virus.  "We have spoken to groups of young people that have visited us in the hospital. They have a large network of contacts and have now become influencers”.

Belgium still doesn’t have a colour-coded corona barometer system. However, if such a system were to exist, we would currently be in Code Orange, Professor Vlieghe said. "And we are on our way to red, of course we are. Everyone can see that. However, a lot will depend on how we now all react to the measures that have been implemented”.  

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