BRUSSELS (AP) – Belgian health authorities believe the second wave of hospitalizations involving COVID-19 has culminated in the severely affected country.
Speaking at a coronavirus crisis center press conference on Monday, virologist Yves Van Laethem said about 400 people were hospitalized for coronavirus complications on Sunday, compared with 879 on March 3. 11.
“For an unpleasant surprise,” hospitalizations peaked that day, Van Laethem said.
About 6,948 patients are currently being treated in Belgian hospitals following COVID-19 infection. It’s about 500 less than November 3.
To break the chain of pollution, Belgium reverted to partial locking measures that included closing unnecessary shops, bars and restaurants, as well as extending the fall school holiday.
The measures seem to have had an impact, as the number of patients in intensive care is also tending to stabilize, Van Laethem said. Much of Europe faces soaring infection rates, last month there were concerns that Belgium would reach maximum capacity for COVID-19 patients in intensive care by mid-November.
To avoid the collapse of the health system, health minister Frank Vandenbroucke said last month that the number of beds available in the ICUs for COVID-19 patients will be increased to 2,300. On November 3, 1,469 patients were admitted to the intensive care unit.
Although a number of intensive care units across the country are operating at full capacity, Van Laethem says there is “a trend in the right direction”.
Belgium has also seen a 40% decrease in the number of new infections daily in the past seven days compared to last week.
Van Laethem added: “The pressure is still very high at the scene, but there is a sunburn on the horizon, we will see stability and it is possible that the number of patients will drop from the middle or the weekend.
More than 13,000 people have died from COVID-19-related causes in Belgium, a country of 11.5 million people. Belgium was one of the countries with the highest mortality rates during the first spring pandemic. This fall, this is the European country with the highest number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people.
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