Danny Gys / Reporters

Virus expert says "Threshold of 800 confirmed infection not expected to be reached until the end of December”

Speaking at Friday morning’s press public health science institute Sciensano press conference, the virologist Professor Steven Van Gucht said that although the coronavirus figures continue to fall the rate at which the number of new confirmed infections is falling is slowing down. This is particularly the case in Flanders. Nevertheless, there still no sign of the downward trend stagnating. 

But what explanation does Sciensano give for the slowing down of the rate at which the figures are falling?

"In the first instance it could be a consequence of more widespread testing since the testing strategy was modified on 23 November (since then people that have had a high risk contact or have returned from a red zone area but don’t display symptoms can also be tested). Especially as the slowdown is evident among all age demographics and in all provinces. Secondly the slowdown is also being influenced by an increase of infections among children, particularly children under the age of 10.  This is probably linked to the reopening of schools after the half term break”, Professor Van Gucht said.

"The infection rate among children (under 10) was 20% higher than during the previous week. However, these are still small numbers. Children are just 3% of all new infections, an infection rate that is far below that among adults. The highest number of infections are among people in their 20’s (15%) and the over 80’s (15%)”, Steven Van Gucht added.

The number of confirmed new infections is falling by half every 18 days. "This means that it will be the end of December before we will have a weekly average that is under the threshold level of 800 confirmed infections per day”

Earlier this week the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist) said that we would need to have been under 800 confirmed new infections and 75 hospital admissions per day for 14 days before any relaxation of the measures designed to curb the spread of the virus could be discussed.


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