“Strong circulation of the virus in Belgium”

Virologist Steven Van Gucht has commented on the strong surge in new coronavirus cases in Belgium.  During the past seven-day observation period on average over 1,000 new cases were recorded each day.

“It’s a big increase” Prof Van Gucht told newsmen at the news conference of Belgian science health institute Sciensano.  “The number is three times higher that three weeks ago.  Figures are doubling every eight days.  Increases will continue at this pace.  No sharper increase is anticipated.”

Many infections are detected among travellers leaving or arriving in the country, but the actual number of cases is also rising.

“We notice this in the test results.  There has been an increase in positives among symptomatic people being tested or people who had high risk contacts. The virus is circulating at a high level in Belgium.”

The biggest increase in cases has been recorded among teenagers and people in their twenties.

“Half of all new infections are in groups of youngsters under 24 with a peak among 17-year-olds.  Increases have been recorded among all age categories, also among over 60s in contrast with last week.”

Cases are up in all Belgian regions and in all provinces.  The rise in new infections is highest in West Flanders with 157 more infections in only a week.  Brussels and Walloon Brabant have the highest number of cases per 100,000 head of population.

“The delta variant is responsible for 63% of infections – up from 50% last week.  28% of infections are attributed to the alpha variant first detected in Kent, 6.3% to the gamma or Brazilian variant and 0.5% to the beta or South African variant,” said Van Gucht.

“Not everybody is fully protected as a result of vaccination.  In Belgium and large parts of Europe the virus is circulating at high rates.  Basic health measures need to be respected with a focus on outdoor activities.”

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