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"At this rate measures won’t be relaxed before the beginning of March” says virus expert

Although Belgium is currently doing much better than its neighbours in containing the spread of coronavirus, experts speaking at Friday morning’s National Crisis Centre press conference warned that it could be some time yet before there is in relaxation of the measures designed to curb the virus’ spread. Professor Steven Van Gucht (photo above) told the press conference that the recent rise in the number of people testing positive for the virus is now flattening off. 

He added that the rise had for the most part been caused by people returning to Belgium from trips abroad. Professor Van Gucht’s Francophone counterpart Yves Van Laethem told the press conference that Belgium is doing far better than its neighbours in containing the spread of the virus. 

However, “The balance between the severity of the measures and the level at which the virus is able to circulate remains delicate”, Professor Van Gucht warned.

"We have reached a plateau at which the impact on our health care system remains high”. 

With the fall in the number of people with COVID-19 that are being admitted to hospital now slowing, it is likely to take longer before the stated aim is reached of getting hospital admissions below 75/day. Only then will any relaxation of the restrictions currently in force be considered.

"At the current rate this won’t be before the beginning of March”, Professor Van Gucht said. 

We are too mobile

Professor Van Gucht went on to say that data shows that since the end of the Christmas and New Year holidays people have started to move about more as they return to work or school. People are currently as mobile as they were at the beginning of December.

"And the increase (in mobility) that we saw during December led to an increase in the figures then”.  

Furthermore, we are now in a period typically associated with flu and other respiratory viruses such as coronavirus.

The National Crisis Centre calls on all of us to work from home whenever possible and to take a coronavirus test even if you only have very mild symptoms. Quarantine rules must be respected in order to prevent the further spread the virus. “Testing and quarantine save lives”, Professor Van Gucht said.

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