A couple of weeks ago, on 27 October, Belgium became the worst pupil in Europe where the number of new corona infections was concerned, leapfrogging the Czech Republic. At that stage, Belgium had 1,391 new infections per 100,000 residents in two weeks' time, 'beating' the Czech figure of 1,380.
Soon after, in the final days of October, tight corona restrictions were introduced, and this is paying off. "The number of new cases is now being halved every seven days. We have dropped to 6th place in Europe", Van Gucht said. If the current trend continues, Belgium should have about 1,000 new infections per day (some 140 or about one tenth of October's peak) at the beginning of December.
Luxembourg is now heading the list with 1,327 infections per 100,000, the latest statistics compiled by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show. Next follow the Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia. Behind Belgium (which has 947 cases per 100,000) comes France with 919.
Unusual Christmas ahead
Mr Van Gucht also spoke about our Christmas and New Year's prospects. "It would be best to celebrate in a small circle, and to avoid different gatherings in a short time frame." In other words, big family gatherings are not a good idea, and we have to avoid to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve with different people. "But it's up to the government to make a formal decision about this."
Talking about the reopening of schools next Monday, Steven Van Gucht told reporters that "this is not without risk, but we will monitor the situation closely." It may have a negative impact on the figures, he said, but this is something we will only be able to see two weeks later. On the other hand, the children's education is important, so it's a risk we have to take, he said.