While the increase in the number of infections is slowing further, the death toll from the pandemic in Belgium has risen above 10,000.
Between 20 and 26 September are according to the Sciensano scoreboard an average of 1,550 people a day become infected with the corona virus. That is another 9 percent increase. The increase therefore seems to have slowed down.
On September 26, the last known full-day figure, 805 infections were reported. That is clearly less than the 2,187 on September 21. It was the first time since the summer flare-up that more than 2,000 infections were diagnosed in a day.
The Sciensano knowledge center follows the evolution of new infections on the basis of the seven-day average instead of daily values. For example, the weekend effect is smoothed out and the data can be supplemented with test results that the labs only supply after a few days.
Early detection of local outbreaks remains important at this stage of the epidemic. That is why Sciensano uses a flashing light system, where the light switches to orange if more than 20 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants have been reported in a municipality in the past seven days. If the number of new infections then increases for seven consecutive days, the light turns red.
The trouble spots
Last summer, viruses arose in Antwerp and Brussels. They are still visible on the map. Especially the situation in the Brussels Region – where the crisis cell has taken extra measures – remains serious. But clusters are also forming outside the cities.
New infections mainly affect people under the age of 50, which is very similar to the start of the epidemic in March.
It is important to know who gets infected and where because the virus is found worldwide to spread through small explosions that can set everything on fire again without extinguishing. That is why it is crucial that the government continues to focus on the test-trace insulation strategy. It must first be possible to test for potential contamination on a large scale.
Because testing is carried out on a large scale – often 30,000 to 35,000 people per day in recent weeks – the positivity ratio offers us a good compass. Sciensano calculates this ratio by comparing the number of positive tests against the number of tests performed. In Belgium, this ratio is about 4 percent, with large regional differences.
Because Sciensano does not share the underlying data, De Tijd compared the number of positively tested people against the number of people tested. Both indicators are broadly the same. A difference is only possible if someone tests negative a number of times before finally following a positive test.
The detection rate of positive cases shows that the virus is indeed on the rise, but there is no reason to panic. The figures are mainly used to follow the evolution of the pandemic because it is difficult to compare with March. The positivity ratio was at its peak at 30 percent at the end of March, but then, due to scarcity, only people with clear disease symptoms were tested. Testing is now much broader.
Sciensano has recently also announced the number of tests per province and the Brussels Region. Antwerp tests the most, but expressed per inhabitant no more than the Brussels Region. Yet the positivity rate is much higher: Brussels is above it with 10.1 percent, while Limburg is at 2.3 percent.
The situation in hospitals
According to hospital statistics, an average of 67 patients are admitted per day. 716 people are in Belgian hospitals with Covid-19, compared to almost 7,000 at the peak of the epidemic. 150 patients are treated in intensive care.
The number of new hospital admissions has stabilized in recent days after an increase since the end of August.
Not only the direct but also the indirect impact of the virus – people postpone vital treatments – plays a role. It is certain that more people died than average in recent months. This excess mortality peaked in our country during the week of March 30. Then there were 2,087 more deaths than normal, or an excess mortality rate of 95 percent. After that, the figures dropped back to their normal level and there was even a slight under-mortality.
This article is updated every weekday at 8:30 am.