Is Belgium going to be the first country to face a " second wave " of coronavirus infections? If until now, the phenomenon has not been observed in European countries, it seems that the health situation is stiffening in our neighbors across Quievrain.
• A rapid increase in coronavirus infections, mainly in poor neighborhoods
This Tuesday, August 4, on the occasion of the update of the data of its dashboard, the Sciensano Public Health Institute indicated that the average number of coronavirus infections rose to 517.1 per day between the 25 and July 31. A 60% increase from the previous week. Even earlier in July, between the 17th and 23rd, the average number of new cases was 278.9 per day and was already up 71% from the previous week. The daily Le Soir , however, tempers these data by adding that over the last week, the number of tests carried out increased by 52%, which correspondingly decreases the real growth of infections.
However, in concrete terms, the number of hospital admissions has now reached 25 per day, a figure up 31% from the previous week.
The Belgian authorities are concerned about a multiplication of sources of contagion in the country, mainly in poor neighborhoods. “ The virus is circulating intensively in our territory. The figures continue to rise, ”said Frédérique Jacobs, a spokesperson for the crisis center, quoted by La Libre Belgique on Monday . “ The number of people admitted to intensive care has doubled since the beginning of July. This increase is seen across the country, and not just in Antwerp. We are seeing increases in several places, in almost all of the provinces, mainly in densely populated neighborhoods with low economic status, ”added the official.
• The government is trying to curb contamination with drastic measures
The strongest main measure taken by the government, the "contact bubble", that is to say the circle of people with whom it is not necessary to observe a distance, has been reduced from fifteen to five people per household.
Read also: Covid-19: Belgium multiplies the rules and bans
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced on July 23 a strengthening of measures, in particular by making it compulsory to wear a mask in " any high-traffic area ", such as markets, flea markets, shopping streets and all public buildings. Wearing a mask was already compulsory since July 11 in stores, cinemas, places of worship, museums and libraries.
Read also: Belgium: wearing a mask compulsory in "any place with high traffic"
• Strictly regulated international travel
To avoid importing the virus and creating new sources of infection, Belgium has also reviewed its travel policy abroad. The government on Saturday banned " non-essential trips " to the Spanish regions of Navarre, Aragon, Barcelona and Lérida in Catalonia, the Lake Geneva region in Switzerland (Vaud, Valais, Geneva) and the French department of Mayenne, because of their epidemiological situation. The Belgian Foreign Ministry has also included on this " red " list the Bulgarian regions of Severoiztochen and Yugozapaden, several areas of Romania (center, south-east, South-Muntenia and South-west Oltenia), as well as the city of Leicester. (United Kingdom). Quarantine and screening are compulsory for travelers from these areas returning to Belgium.
Read also: Belgium: travel banned to several areas in Spain, Switzerland and France
• The threatened economy
Is Belgium moving towards a new general confinement in the event of a skid in infections? The main obstacle, as in all other countries, is of course economic. “It wouldn't be possible. Belgium would not survive it. The question is to know how many deaths we are ready to accept ” , worried a Belgian minister a few days ago.
Several companies fear strong social repercussions. On Monday, the Ancienne Belgique, legendary concert hall, one of the busiest in Europe, announced that it had to part with 200 employees, stage editors, security guards, independent technicians and kitchen staff.
Read also: The Ancienne Belgique, the Olympia in Brussels, separates from 200 employees