When will Belgium reach its Covid peak?

Belgium expects the number of Covid patients in hospital to peak at the end of November or in mid-December.  The prediction comes from researchers at the universities of Antwerp and Hasselt.  Steven Van Gucht, the head of viral diseases at Belgian science health institute Sciensano, forecasts that at the peak 750 patients will need critical care.

“How big the peak is, will depend on how every one of us is able to put a brake on the number of infections” says Van Gucht.

Belgium’s R or Reproduction number stands at 1.18.  One hundred sick people pass the virus on to 118 others. If the R number remains stable and starts to fall after 21 November, then the peak should mean 750 patients in ICUs.  If the fall only starts in December 800 beds will be filled.

“We’ve had an R number around 1,1 for some time.  We can expect that 750 is the most likely outcome” says Van Gucht. “But if the R number doesn’t fall or even rises, we are heading for a worst-case scenario”.

In a worst-case scenario with an R number that continues to rise we are looking at 1,200 ICU beds filled with Covid patients.  “This would equal the pressure on health care witnessed during the first wave and that we absolutely need to avoid” says Van Gucht. “It will be difficult to send patients abroad because hospitals there are filling up too”.

In a best-case scenario with an R number falling from 21 November 640 Covid patients will be treated in ICUs at the height of the wave.

“That’s rather unlikely.  In any case all scenarios show we need to intervene” says Van Gucht.

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