Coronavirus: Belgium becoming a hotspot for COVID-19 in Europe

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This week Belgium recorded the highest death rate from COVID-19 cases in Europe.

1,329 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, with 5,163 deaths confirmed according to the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Friday.

This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 36,138. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

Belgium’s neighbours Britain and France have averages of 202 and 274 deaths per one million respectively, with total reported deaths on the order of 14,000 and 18,000 for populations that are six times bigger.

1,287 of those positive results come from the classical testing network. The other 42 come from tests taken in the residential care centres, which are still ongoing,” said Prof. Dr. Steven Van Gucht PhD. Head of Viral Diseases. In total, 139,387 coronavirus tests have been taken in Belgium, of which roughly 5,000 in the past 24 hours.

Prof. Dr. Steven Van Gucht PhD. Head of Viral Diseases

320 new patients were admitted to the hospital in the last 24 hours, and 399 new people have also been discharged, bringing the total number of people in the hospital because of the coronavirus at the moment to 5,161, a decrease of 148 patients.

“Of the patients in the hospital, 1,140 are in the intensive care unit, which is a decrease of 42 patients,” said professor Steven Van Gucht.

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes explained why that was the case on Wednesday (15 April), and said the government “made the choice of full transparency when communicating deaths linked to COVID-19,” even if it resulted in “numbers that are sometimes overestimated.”

Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes

“Nobody spoke about corona at that time, you know, it started with us on 9 March, the beginning of March and the first measures from our national government were taken on 13 March”, Said Veerle Heeren, Mayor of city of Sint-Truiden.

Veerle Heeren, Mayor of city of Sint-Truiden

The mayor, who has been applauded for her handling of the crisis since, knows what it is to face the nightmare of COVID-19.

Her husband spent weeks in a coma with the virus and remains in hospital.

She says it has been tough personally but she felt the need to keep on working, to help the community.

Most official tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections, because many countries are testing only the most serious cases.

Unlike some countries, Belgium takes fully into account the dramatic situation in retirement homes.

In the country’s more than 1,500 such facilities, the numbers include deaths that are considered linked to the coronavirus even if it has not been proven by tests, a choice not taken by many others.

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