Young people about to leave for a holiday abroad make up the lion’s share of those testing positive for coronavirus

After weeks of a continuous fall in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Belgium, the number of new infections has started to rise again. The virologist Professor Steven Van Gucht (photo above) says that the reason that the number of coronavirus infections that are being detected is rising again is for a large part due to more tests being carried out. Of those currently testing positive, a large portion are younger people that are taking a PCR test in order for them to be able to travel abroad for a holiday. 

The latest figures on the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium show that between 25 June and 1 July an average of 506 people tested positive for coronavirus in Belgium each day. This is up 52% on the previous week.  Professor Steven Van Gucht says that the figures shouldn’t give us immediate cause for concern as with the start of the summer vacation period the number of tests was also up by almost half. 

In order to obtain a Europe Digital Coronavirus Certificate those that have there been not immunised or have not recovered from a coronavirus infection during the past 6 months are obliged to take a PCR test. If this proves negative, they can obtain the certificate that allows them to travel within the EU.

"During the past week we have seen the number of tests rise by 50%, mainly due to people wanting to travel. There are around 1% positive cases among them, and these would have gone unnoticed a few weeks ago”.  

Predominantly young holidaymakers

Of those testing positive a large portion are younger people. They often only display slight symptoms or are completely asymptomatic. They only take a PCR test so that they can go on holiday. "They often don’t realise that anything is wrong. It is an unpleasant surprise for them when they suddenly test positive”.

Professor Van Gucht went on to say that most of these are teenagers and people in their 20s.

"People that are older have already been vaccinated one or twice and that protects than from infection to some extent. The fact that you now mainly see infections among younger people is due to a combination of them not yet being fully immunised, having an active social life and the fact that they are taking tests en masse in order to be able to travel”. 

Party breaks are risky

Meanwhile, some of those that return from holidays abroad are also testing positive for coronavirus. Professor Van Gucht says that this isn’t so much linked to where they have been on holiday as it is to what they did while they were there.

"Going to Southern Europe to party is fun, but it does involve a greater risk than if you go there to stay in a holiday home with your family or your bubble”.

“You now hear stories of groups that leave negative and test 20% to 30% positive on their return. This could have happened at their destination, but also during the journey. Travelling together in a car or on a bus provides the ideal conditions for the virus to circulate”. 

The coming days

Professor Van Gucht expects further sharp rises in the number of new infections during the coming day before things start to flatten off.

"We are now comparing a week during which a lot of tests were carried out with a week with fewer tests. The jump in the figures is due to the summer vacation. This effect will soon disappear, and we will be able to see the true trend”.

But this apart the figures will rise slightly, Professor Van Gucht predicts.

"I think that we have reached the bottom. The measures have been relaxed and the Delta variant is in the ascendancy. Thankfully the impact on the hospitals is now much smaller as most of those at risk have already been vaccinated”.

Nevertheless, Professor Van Gucht warns that we should not let things get out of hand “Because then the virus will find its way to those at risk that for one reason or another have not yet been vaccinated”.

“It is in all our interests to keep the circulation of the virus under a certain level for as long as the vaccination campaign has not been completed. 

Top stories