Virologist says that the reopening of schools has not yet had any effect on the coronavirus figures
At Friday morning’s public health science institute Sciensano press conference, the virologist Steven Van Gucht said that as of yet the reopening of schools after the extended half term break has not had an effect on figures relating to the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium. However, Professor Van Gucht warned that “It is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions, but it is encouraging. The number of infections among children and teenagers is decreasing, albeit slightly more slowly than among other age demographics. But I would wait another 1 to 2 weeks before drawing any definitive conclusions”.
What is noticeable in the figures is the impact of the modifications to the testing strategy that were came into force on Monday 23 November. “We see that the number of positive high risks tests has risen from 5% to 10% and we expect this to rise still further”, Professor Van Gucht told the press conference.
Currently the number of people testing positive is falling by half every 11 days. "If the trend were to continue we will end up with an average of about 500 confirmed new infections around Christmas. The figure will probably be higher though because gradually more people that have a high risk of infection and people that have travelled will be tested. The number of confirmed new infections during the period around the end of the year will still be 5 times higher than it was in June”.
"In June we were at the start of the summer which made a further suppression of the virus easier than now. With the end of year festivities ahead of us the challenges posed by controlling the virus will be considerably greater than they were then”, Professor Van Gucht concluded.
Professor Van Gucht’s Francophone colleague Yves Van Laethem described the situation as follows “During the winter we live are lives inside and the virus likes being inside. Whatever measures we take were need to be on our guard because were are entering a period of favourable conditions for the virus”.
Meanwhile, the number of people with COVID-19 that are being hospitalised is falling by half every 13 days. However, Steven Van Gucht told the press conference that the number of COVID-19 patients on intensive care wards (1,034) is still twice what it was at the beginning of May when the first relaxation of the spring lockdown measures came into force.