Crisis center hopes for ‘new plateau phase’

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The crisis center speaks of ‘an encouraging signal’ now that the increase in the number of new coronavirus infections has decreased. ‘We see that the increase is becoming less pronounced, so that we may seem to be evolving into a new plateau phase,’ says virologist Steven Van Gucht.

Between 18 and 24 September, an average of 1,551 new infections with the corona virus were registered per day. That is 17 percent more than the seven days before, which is a much less pronounced increase than a week ago. That is an encouraging sign. It shows again that we can all make a difference. The key is in each of our hands. Let us therefore observe the golden rules, ‘says Van Gucht.

Noticeable decrease

Yves Van Laethem of Sciensano indicated that he hoped that after that plateau a decline will follow as soon as possible. The figures already show that the day with the highest number of infections was last Monday, with 2,187 new cases. A decline has been noticeable since Wednesday. Only partial results are known as of Friday.

A decrease in the average is already noticeable for children under 10 years old. So there is no problem with those school-going children, says Van Laethem.

An increase has been noted in the other age categories. ‘This is particularly the case for the over-70s, where the increase is significantly higher than the national average,’ warns Van Gucht. There was an increase of 42 percent in that age category.

Brussels

The increase is still noticeable in all provinces, but differs very strongly: from 7 percent in Limburg to 54 percent in Namur. In absolute figures, the Brussels Region has the most infections, “although the speed of the increase seems to be slowing down here too,” says Van Gucht. ‘This is an increase of 11 percent compared to the week before. We come from increases of 75 percent. The rise curve seems to be less steep, also in Brussels’.

Nevertheless, the share of positive tests remains high. On average about 10 percent of the tests taken last week were positive. That is twice the Belgian average, Van Gucht notes.

Hospitals

There is also an increase in hospitals, but there is no capacity problem. 135 patients are in an intensive care unit, while 300 beds are currently available for covid-19 patients. In an emergency, that could be 2,000.

It is already busy in some Brussels hospitals, but according to Van Gucht the aim is to spread the patients as quickly as possible, so that the normal functioning of those hospitals is not compromised.

Horeca

In Brussels, it was decided this weekend to bring the closing time for cafes and restaurants forward to 11 pm. According to Van Gucht, it is indeed the case that ‘some clusters were created through visits to the catering industry’. It is not clear for which percentage of the infections are responsible. “But it is true that clusters have been identified from time to time.”

As a reason for bringing the closing time forward, Van Gucht points out that people who have drunk more late in the evening have ‘less sense of risk’, and therefore follow the rules less well. ‘But people are not supposed to party in a private environment, the risk could be even greater than in the controlled environment of a bar.’





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