Molenberghs cites estimates counting recorded and unrecorded cases and suggests the real scale of the pandemic in Belgium is around 3 million cases. “An enormous number of people show no symptoms. They don’t realise they have got Covid. You really can’t say they are ill, merely infected. During the first wave in March and April of last year test capacity was extremely limited and only people with symptoms were tested”.
“The situation in hospitals is heading the right way. It’s clearly noticeable among the group of people who have been vaccinated longest: hospitalisations and deaths among care home residents are sharply down. Pressure on hospitals and intensive care is reducing, but hospitalisations among under 65s remain high. Caution is still needed.”
If vaccinations remain on track and corona measures are observed the number of Covid patients in critical care should drop below 500 by the beginning of June. That could open the way for further relaxations.
“That’s our hope” says Molenberghs. “If vaccinations here and in neighbouring countries continue, more will be possible. In Israel where an awful lot of people have been vaccinated, we see cases per 100,000 head of population fall dramatically in only two weeks. The figure’s around 20. The figure here is 400/100,000. Corona hasn’t disappeared in Israel, but the vaccination campaign continues and they are reaping the benefits. We see similar figures in the UK”.