Belgium should close borders now to avoid third wave, expert warns

Belgium should close its borders now if it wants to avoid a third wave of coronavirus infections, according to Dirk Devroey, professor and dean of the health faculty at VUB.

The rising infections figures in neighbouring countries and border municipalities indicate that the virus will enter Belgium from abroad again, said Devroey.

“Now that our neighbouring countries are going into lockdown, closing the borders seems to be the order of the day,” he tweeted.

“Exponential growth must be slowed down at the outset, but I fear that we are once again a little too late,” Devroey said, adding that Belgium must not make the same mistake as it did in September, when it relaxed the measures while the figures were going up.

While the weekly averages of the coronavirus figures continue to decrease at the moment, Devroey fears that this is mainly due to the reduced testing during the Christmas holidays.

“People stayed at home and did not have to go to work, and it was more difficult for them to find a GP to get tested,” he said. “From now on, there will be a lot of testing again. Just think of the people coming back from holidays, we will see that in the figures within a few days.”

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Additionally, Devroey pointed out that the pressure on hospitals and intensive care units remains high. “The influx of patients continues to decrease, but the number of people in hospital remains stable,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht stated that Belgium could reach the threshold for starting to relax the measures of 75 hospitalisations per day by early February if the trends continue to evolve at this rate.

Even though the decreasing number of Covid-19 cases could be partly due to the lower number of tests being carried out over the holidays, Van Gucht said, hospital admissions are not dependent on testing policy.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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