Statistician says that “it’s difficult to define the exact cause” of the rise in coronavirus infections

For the third day running the latest figures released by the public health science institute Sciensano show a rise in the 7-day rolling average for people testing positive for coronavirus . During the week from 1 to 7 January an average of 1,816 people tested positive for the virus each day. This is a rise of 14% of the previous week.  The Ghent University (UGent) statistician Bart Mesuere has told VRT News that it is difficult to define what the precise cause of the rise in the number of new coronavirus infections could be.  

"Firstly, there are travellers that have returned and need to be tested. Secondly more tests were carried out during the first working week and week of school than during the holidays. We see that during periods with public holidays between 30% and 40% fewer tests are carried out. We are now back at more or less a normal amount. It is just that you can’t see to what extent each of these two factors is responsible for the rise”.

Dr Mesuere added that "If it is mainly due to travellers returning then the rise in the number of infections ought to slow down in the coming days. Most travellers returned last weekend (2 and 3 January) and have now all been tested. After 7 days they will all have to be tested again”.

The good news is that the positivity rate for the tests carried out in Belgium is falling. It currently stands at 5.7%, a fall of 1.5 percentage points in a week. Dr Mesuere says that the fall is probably due to travellers returning from Red Zone countries (including most of Europe) having to take a coronavirus test on their return. The probability that they are infected is less than it is among people that are tested because they display symptoms.  

The statistician adds that something else that is noticeable is the relatively low number of hospital admissions. On Sunday 10 January there were 84. “This is the lowest figure since October. At Christmas there were also very few admissions (87) as yesterday there were fewer still”. 

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