Virologist says that "Motivation will be our best weapon"

Speaking at Tuesday’s morning’s National Crisis Centre press conference, the virologist Professor Steven Van Gucht said that while he is pleased that the figures relating to the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium are falling, we must remain realistic. 

“We handled the Christmas holidays superbly. We are able to start the new year with fewer infections, hospitalisations and deaths compared with the period before the holidays.  The figures continue to cautiously fall, and this is not self-evident. In some other countries the figures continue to rise, despite the Christmas holidays. In addition to this the lockdown in Belgium is less severe that in neighbouring countries. We must continue our efforts during the coming weeks. This won’t be easy given that normal life with school and work has started again. Our most important weapon will be our motivation”, Professor Van Gucht said.

"We expect that more people will be tested during the coming weeks. As result of this the number of confirmed infections will start to fall less quickly. The fall in the number of infections has been in all age demographics. The fall was largest among children under the age of 10 (-26%). More than half of the infections are among people between the ages of 20 and 60 with a peak among those aged 29. The figures are falling in all provinces, ranging from -29% in Hainaut and Namur to almost a stabilisation in Luxembourg Province. The highest number of new cases is still in Antwerp Province followed by East and West Flanders”.

Professor Van Gucht went on to express hope regarding the number of people being hospitalised. “Last week there was an average of 139 hospital admissions per day. During the week before the Christmas holidays this was 180 per day. If this trend continues, and it won’t be easy, we could be down to 75 hospital admissions per day at the beginning of February”.

Professor Van Gucht also sees hopeful signs from the country’s care homes.

"During the week from 22 to 29 December the number of infections and large outbreaks in care homes fell in all regions. 24% of Flemish care homes reported at least 1 case of COVID, the week before this was just over 28%. In Wallonia this was 20%, down from 23% the previous week and in Brussels it was 10% as opposed to 14% during the previous week.  9% of Flemish care home had a large outbreak, this was the case in 7% of care homes in Wallonia and just 4% in Brussels. The number of deaths in care homes is also down”, Professor Van Gucht told the press conference. 

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