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Van Gucht: ‘Possible to code orange in mid-February’

The omikron wave seems to have reached its peak. “If the numbers continue to evolve in this way, they may be low enough by mid-February to switch to code orange on the barometer,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht.

The number of infections is no longer increasing on a weekly basis and a decrease can already be observed on a daily basis. It seems that the peak of the omikron wave is on Monday, January 24, when 75,862 new infections were identified. Since then, the daily figure has fallen sharply.

‘We have to take that with a small grain of salt, since many people also use self-tests that do not necessarily end up in the statistics,’ says Van Gucht. ‘But the number of positive tests also seems to be declining, which is good news. We had previously predicted that the peak of this wave would be at the end of January.’

Hospital admissions are still rising for the time being, but according to Van Gucht, that too is a matter of days. ‘Either we are at the peak now, or it will follow in a few days. We have already seen that the decrease in the number of hospitalizations only occurs a week after the decrease in the number of infections. The number of occupied beds in intensive care is also increasing at the moment, but I don’t expect that we will go back to 500 there.’


The virologist emphasizes that the virus will circulate for a long time, especially in view of the contagiousness of omikron, but that is not a big problem, according to him. ‘The most important question is what that means for the healthcare system. I expect the pressure to ease as more people have built up immunity. We can be optimistic, because we don’t immediately see a new variant of the virus that seems to be taking over the torch from omikron.’


We are currently in code red, according to the corona barometer, which means that there is a high risk of overloading the healthcare system. Code orange can come into effect if there are between 300 and 500 corona patients in ICU, which has already been met, and the number of hospitalizations is between 65 and 149 daily. Van Gucht expects that we will reach that threshold ‘mid-February’, which makes switching to code orange possible.

In practice, this would mean that the corona rules are easing considerably. For example, indoor events would no longer be limited to 200 spectators, but 60 to 90 percent of the maximum hall capacity. In the catering industry, the closing time is cancelled.

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