Dirk Devroey, professor of general practice and vice dean at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), advocates a complete lockdown for the district of Antwerp. In his view, that is the only solution to combat the second wave of the coronavirus. According to him, this would have happened in other countries for a long time.
“I am afraid that we must be strict with the district of Antwerp, where 55% of the new infections come from. Nobody likes to hear it, but we have to go back to a situation where people only come out for food or to see the doctor. We have to ask that people stay in their dorm again. This is burning, ”says Devroey.
The VUB professor refers to the incidence in the district of Antwerp, which has risen to 77 infections per week per 100,000 inhabitants. “This is also a risk factor in Germany. If an incidence exceeds 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, a district will have to lock there again. If you compare that with Antwerp, you can only decide that the Antwerp district must be closed. ”
Devroey believes that the decision should have been made even earlier. “The source of the infection is spreading. Eventually, the whole of Flanders or perhaps even the whole of Belgium will have to lockdown. At present, the incidence for the whole of Flanders is 22 infections per week per 100,000 inhabitants, in Brussels and Wallonia this is only 13 and 11 respectively. In absolute numbers, the latest daily figures indicated 421 infections in Flanders, of which 285 are therefore from the district of Antwerp, 46 in Brussels and 43 in Wallonia. If we don’t deliver this message, if policymakers don’t intervene, we’ll be heading for that extended lockdown scenario. ”
Devroey regrets that a local lockdown will be bad for the economy. “But you don’t weigh a human life in euros. Indecision costs more for the image, abroad as well as to its own citizens. ”
Devroey thinks the decision of the Antwerp provincial crisis cell to limit the contact bubble to ten people for four weeks is a good decision, “but it should apply to the entire country.” “Antwerp should be completely locked.”
Whether such a lockdown is realistic or whether policymakers will have the courage to do so? “Right now you have to be very brave not to make a decision. This is not justifiable to the citizen and the voter, ”says the professor. In order to be efficient, in a densely populated and closely connected country like Belgium, such a lockdown for Devroey must have some scale, for example at the level of a district or province. He doubts whether a local lockdown would lead to laxity elsewhere in Belgium. “It could be a signal, a warning that such a lockdown is also imminent there.”