Belgian coronavirus ‘centre of gravity’ is shifting from Antwerp to Brussels, Crisis Centre warns

The latest figures for the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium indicate that the Brussels-Capital Region is becoming the “centre of gravity” for infections, said health officials during a press conference on Monday.

“After a long period of increasing figures, today is the first time that we can report a decrease in the weekly average,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

On a national level, this would mean that the peak is behind us for the time being. “However, we seem to be at a tipping point, with the centre of gravity shifting from Antwerp to Brussels,” he said.

Between 7 and 13 August, an average of 574 infections was recorded per day, 5% less than a week before.

In Brussels, however, the increase continues, with an average of 122 new confirmed cases per day last week, or an increase of 48%. “The percentage of positive tests also continues to rise. 6.7% of all tests were positive in Brussels,” said Van Gucht. “That is high.”

If this evolution continues, Brussels will have a weekly total that is higher than Antwerp’s in two days, according to the figures.

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“In the other provinces, the situation is evolving favourably, and the figures are decreasing,” Van Gucht said, adding that only in Flemish and Walloon Brabant, as well as in Luxembourg, there is still an increase. “However, it is very limited, and the absolute figures are very low.”

Additionally, the number of hospital admission continues to increase, with an average of 35 new admissions per day last week. “That is in line with expectations, and is still going to continue increasing for a while. The situation in the hospitals remains under control,” Van Gucht said.

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In total, 336 patients are admitted to hospital at the moment, of which 86 are in the intensive care unit. “The highest numbers are in Antwerp and Brussels. Together, they account for over half of these admissions.”

The number of deaths recorded last week has doubled compared to the week before. “Now that the heatwave is over, we suspect that, over the course of this week, it will become clear to what extent the peak was linked to the high temperatures and ozone concentrations,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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