Coronavirus: 1,661 new cases confirmed,bring total to 18,431 with 140 deaths in last 24 hours in Belgium

In the last 24 hours, 1,661 new cases of infection by the coronavirus (Covid-19) have been confirmed in Belgium, according to the government crisis centre’s daily press conference.

The new cases bring to 18,431 the total of confirmed cases in Belgium.

The new numbers were divided among the three regions: 831 in Flanders (50%), 652 in Wallonia (39%)and 162 in Brussels (10%).

No information was available as to the origin of 16 of the new cases.

Of the newly confirmed cases, 503 have been hospitalised, bringing the total to 7,773, of whom 1,245 are in intensive care, 40 in the last 24 hours. The ICU capacity in the country is filled to the tune of 56%. 985 people are on respirators, an increase of 69 in the past 24 hours.

The last 24 hours saw 140 new fatalities, bringing the total to 1,283 since the outbreak began. Of the latest deaths, 47 were in Flanders, 56 in Wallonia and 37 in Brussels.

The crisis centre stressed a point it has made before: the number of hospitalisations is a more reliable indicator of the progress of the epidemic than either the number of diagnoses or the number of deaths.

The number of diagnoses, Emmanuel André pointed out, is reliant on the number of people tested. Since the government plans to increase the number of tests to at least 10,000 a day, more confirmed diagnoses can be expected, which is not to say that more people are becoming infected. Many of those diagnosed will be affected only slightly or not at all.

The number of deaths, meanwhile, is a more dramatic figure, but two points are important: the cases of a fatal infection are not spread equally across the population; and deaths typically occur later in the disease process, so that today’s numbers reflect confirmed cases of infection and hospitalisation reported two weeks ago at least, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

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Therefore, while the number of deaths remains high – just one short of the highest death tool in a single day recorded on March 31 – that is not a sign that the measures taken to prevent the spread of the disease are not working.

The evolution of the number of hospital admissions, André said, is a sign that “We are moving towards a situation of gaining control over the epidemic, but we must remain vigilant.”

Hospital admissions peaked on March 28, with 629 admissions in 24 hours. Since then the trend has been downward, with today’s figure the lowest since the peak.

Since the outbreak began in Belgium, 3,247 patients have been able to leave hospital after treatment. Yesterday saw 375 hospital patients discharged.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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