“Fourth wave underway”

Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist/Vooruit) says the number of cases of coronavirus is set to surge in coming days.  The fourth wave of the disease has started in Belgium.  New cases and hospitalisations are expected to rise sharply. Mr Vandenbroucke called on people to mask even when it’s not mandatory.

The federal health minister urges vigilance.  “The figures are not good.  A fourth wave was expected, but in coming days we are going to experience a strong surge in the figures.  The number of hospitalisations will rise too.  It’s all hands to the pumps for this fourth wave.”

Mr Vandenbroucke wants to increase the number of people, who are vaccinated and favours masking.  “Face coverings remain a useful tool” says the minister “especially in indoor settings.”

“Not all of us are vaccinated, not even in Flanders.  If you look at Flemish towns bordering Brussels, Asse, Zaventem, Vilvoorde, Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, vaccination rates are insufficient.  In Antwerp City 70,000 unvaccinated people are still out and about.”

The health minister calls for the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), the Belgian version of the EU Digital Covid Certificate (available on the CovidSafeBE app) to be required in more localities.

Mr Vandenbroucke says the CST is a useful tool: “We should continue to use it in discotheques.  It’s meaningful at events and, as far as I’m concerned, also in bars and restaurants.”

 

“The Mayor of Wevelgem (West Flanders) has requested permission to introduce the CST in his municipality.  He will be given this power.”

The power to grant permission to local authorities to introduce the CST passes to the regions in November.  Mr Vandenbroucke wants the Flemish government to respond favourably to requests from mayors: “I feel you are sometimes given the impression the CST removes freedoms” he noted.

The health minister voiced concern about the fourth wave coming at the time of a flu epidemic.  The end of the corona crisis is not yet in sight.

Mr Vandenbroucke insisted care workers would face mandatory vaccination.  “I hope we can sort it by Christmas.  I can’t imagine by next summer anybody who is unvaccinated will be working in the health and care sectors” he noted.

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