Professor Van Gucht says that there is “no need to panic”

During the past week there has been a considerable rise in the figures relating to the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium. Nevertheless, the virologist Professor Steven Van Gucht says that there is no reason to panic. In an interview with VRT News Professor Van Gucht says that above all “It’s important that we can ensure that we ensure that we are able to cope with the extra strain the wave will bring, and that the hospital aren’t put under too much pressure”. 

For the first time since May the 7-day average for confirmed coronavirus infections now exceeds 3,000/day. This is up 46% on a week ago. At an average of 73/day hospitalisations are up too, as are the number of deaths among people with COVID-19 (11/day).

Professor Van Gucht says that the rise in the figures has come about due to the relaxation of the measures to curb the spread of the virus that came into force on 1 October and the poorer weather that has meant that we are spending more time inside. He adds that the rise hasn't come as a surprise.

“A while ago we said that there would be an autumn wave. We had expected it around the end of September or the beginning of October. Now we’re in the second half of October so it will come later than expected”.

At a provincial level, while Antwerp Province still has the largest number of COVID-19 patients in hospital, the largest rises in admissions have been in West Flanders and Limburg. In West Flanders the number of patients has doubled from 25 to 52 during the past week. Meanwhile in Limburg the number of COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals has risen from 8 to 21.

Meanwhile, in the Brussels Capital Region where the vaccination rate is much lower than elsewhere in the country the number of hospital admissions remains high but has fallen slightly during the past week. 

Should we be worried?

Although Professor Van Gucht says that “A little concern is always good” he adds that “there is no need for panic or great unease”. 

We should simply remain on our guard for the sake of our care professionals. Professor Van Gucht observes that with some delay hospitalisations are following the rising trend in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus. Nevertheless, as so many of us have been vaccinated this is happening less quickly than was the case this time last year.

"If you become infected with coronavirus and you have been vaccinated the chance that you will become seriously ill and end up in hospital is much smaller (9 times smaller in fact). That is the big difference with before. We had calculated that if the number of infections doubles the number of hospitalisations will increase by 30% to 40%".  This has changed in the meantime and the number of hospitalisations is rising less quickly than the number of infections. It’s less than it was a year ago, but it’s still rising”, Professor Van Gucht told VRT News. 

Top stories