Will Belgium be completely locked? The Consultation Committee will discuss new measures on Friday afternoon. The hospitals are clear: a complete lockdown is needed to reverse the ‘hellish spiral’. Experts agree.
The Consultation Committee will meet again at 1 p.m. about the lightning-fast spread of the corona virus. On Thursday, 743 new patients were admitted to hospitals – yet another day record. At the current rate, intensive care units will reach their maximum capacity within seven to ten days. The contamination figures are also still very high.
“We don’t see the improvement we hoped to see,” says CoronacoMissary Pedro Facon. “Strong measures are needed.” Virologist Marc Van Ranst had stated on Twitter that it was time for the emergency brake: “a lockdown”. And a group of 35 scientists, including biostatisticians Geert Molenberghs and Kurt Barbé, plead in an open letter to “take immediate lockdown measures, in a balanced and proportionate way”.
During the Consultation Committee, the summit meeting with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) and the minister-presidents of the regions, further tightening of the corona measures will be discussed. In the first place, they look at social contacts. At the suggestion of the Celeval expert group, it is considered to limit visits at home to one hug contact. Until today it is allowed to receive four people from outside your own bubble.
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The non-essential movements are also under the magnifying glass. In France, everyone who goes further than 1 kilometer out the door must have a special form with them, in Ireland a perimeter of 5 kilometers is used. It is not clear which measures are on the table in our country.
To reduce the number of trips, the experts also want to reduce ‘fun shopping’. One of the options is to close non-essential stores, but the Flemish and federal governments seem reluctant to do so. The economy must continue to run. Moreover, stores themselves are not considered as potential sources of infection. You may only be allowed to enter a shop alone, now that is only two.
Companies and schools
Nor is it intended to close companies, as was the case with the first lockdown, although the rules on teleworking are becoming stricter. The schools will normally reopen after November 11th. The role of distance learning is important in this, especially for older students.
Finally, stricter enforcement of the rules will also be monitored. Everyone realizes: we can still take as many new measures as we want, if they are not followed they will make no difference. Research by motivational psychologist Maarten Vansteenkiste (UGent) shows that approximately 50 percent of the population is determined to follow the measures. During the first lockdown, this was still 80 percent.
There is not a second to lose for the healthcare sector. In a joint cry for help, the Belgian hospitals emphasize that “decisive measures now” must be taken to break the “hellish spiral” of corona infections. “Hospitals are running out of breath. The saturation point seems inescapable. We are under no illusions, ”it says. Margot Cloet, top woman of Zorgnet-Icuro, also explicitly advocated a lockdown.
According to Prime Minister De Croo, the Consultation Committee will decide on the basis of “scientific advice, facts and figures”, he stated in the House. A lockdown 2.0 seems so inevitable.