Coronavirus infections jumped 70% in a few days in Belgium. Should we be worried? Update on the situation.
Coronavirus contaminations have been on the rise in Belgium in recent days. This Thursday, Sciensano announces an increase in one week of no less than 70%. On average, nearly 550 people now test positive every day. The virus’s reproduction rate is back above 1, a sign that it is recirculating more in the population.
Coronavirus contaminations have been on the rise in Belgium in recent days. This Thursday, Sciensano announces an increase in one week of no less than 70%. On average, nearly 550 people now test positive every day. The virus’s reproduction rate is back above 1, a sign that it is recirculating more in the population. This marked increase in contamination can be explained by several factors, explains Sciensano. The first concerns travel. Many people are currently being tested so that they can go on vacation. The more tests, the more positive the cases are. These are usually asymptomatic people or sometimes traces of an old infection that is detected. The fact of traveling also increases the risks, the percentage of positive tests is twice as high among those who return from a trip (2.2%) than among those who leave (1%). The second factor concerns the change in our behaviour. “With the recent easing, we have more close contacts,” notes Yves Van Laethem, interfederal spokesperson. “This is why it is important to always remain cautious.” Finally, the Delta variant (formerly called Indian) is the third factor. More contagious than the majority (British) Alpha variant in the past, the Delta variant now accounts for more than 50% of infections in Belgium. According to Sciensano, it is likely that the number of infections will continue to increase in the coming days and is also leading to an increase in hospital admissions. But this burden on hospital structures should be fairly limited: “We expect the increase in hospital admissions to be much less pronounced,” reassures Yves Van Laethem. “Most infections occur in younger people. The elderly or those with a risk profile fortunately generally already have full or partial protection thanks to the vaccine.” In Belgium, 78% of people over 65 have received both doses of the vaccine against the coronavirus, for 45% of those over 18 years old. Coverage that is not enough, however, to feel invincible in the face of the virus. Marc Noppen, CEO of UZBrussel thus disputes the idea that vaccinations can prevent hospitalizations: “After all, vaccines do not protect 100%, which means that – with the exception of unvaccinated people – vaccinated people are also at a lower risk of getting sick and eventually ending up in hospital. I don’t think we’re going to be able to shut down the Covid department of our hospital anytime soon, “explains the medicine in Het Nieuwsblad. His main hope now is that hospitals are not caught off guard again, as they were in previous waves. “By vaccinating the population, in principle, that shouldn’t happen anymore. And that’s a good thing. At the height of the wave, we had 120 corona patients in our hospital, which was untenable. why we are very vigilant today when the numbers increase again. We cannot let the situation escape us again “, he warns. The virologist Steven Van Gucht has put forward the predictions of various biostatisticians. They do not rule out that, despite the vaccination campaign, the growing number of infections could again weigh heavily on hospitals in early autumn. “We absolutely must avoid this,” he said. experts, a fourth wave (or even a fifth in Spain) is foreseeable, even inevitable in Europe, where the race against time has been started to stop the Delta variant with vaccination campaigns that are stagnating in some places. The situation is already complicated in Catalonia, the United Kingdom and Portugal where infections are soaring and where containment measures have been decreed again. In Belgium, however, the time is not for panic, no fourth wave on the horizon, at most a “wave”. All the indicators remain in the green to this day, despite the clear rise in infections. Also encouraging: hospital admissions continue to decline. As of July 5, there were 262 covid beds occupied in the various hospitals of the country (-23% compared to the previous week) and 115 in intensive care (-22%). On average, over the past seven days, three people died daily from covid (-31%). “To speak of waves, we have always taken hospitalizations as a leading indicator,” recalls Niko Speybroeck, epidemiologist at UCLouvain in Le Soir. Rather, he anticipates a “wave” of hospitalizations. His colleague Sophie Lucas, president of the Duve Institute (read our interview here) is also of the opinion that it is too early to predict the consequences of the Delta variant on future hospitalizations, citing the cases of the United Kingdom or of ‘Israel to anticipate the deterioration of the health situation, and provide for appropriate measures. The situation is indeed very different from last summer. Vaccination makes it possible to avoid contaminations and serious cases of the disease which would saturate hospitals. “If we look at the curve of cases and deaths in the United Kingdom and compare it to those of previous waves, we are not at all, at all in the same story”, explains epidemiologist Marius to Le Soir. Gilbert, joined by his colleague from ULB Simon Dellicour: “The good news is that for the moment we can see this decoupling between the two curves. If we compare with the previous wave in the United Kingdom, it There are therefore comparatively fewer hospitalizations for the same number of positive cases. “The bête noire of virologists, however, remains the more intensive circulation of the virus during holidays and deconfinement, during which barrier gestures are less well respected. Other even more aggressive variants could then develop with the many movements of people across Europe. With the fear that a much riskier variant that is resistant to vaccines and a previous infection might arise. The watchword for experts remains vigilance, while waiting for vaccination to progress and protect more and more citizens around the world.