It is the Federal Minister of Health who affirms it: “The health situation in Wallonia and Brussels is the most dangerous in all of Europe, we are very close to a tsunami. “ Flemish socialist Frank Vandenbroucke, a revenant in Belgian politics, is not the type to hide the realities: his country, which had already experienced a devastating first wave of epidemics, with 10,000 deaths recorded in September for 11.4 million d inhabitants – the second highest rate in the world – approaching a major crisis. Evoking ” an avalanche “ which is likely to sweep over general practitioners and hospitals, without the country being prepared, the minister intended to cause an electric shock.
Belgium recorded, between October 11 and 17, an average number of new daily infections, which amounted to 8,975 (+ 68%), according to figures released Wednesday, October 21 by the Institute of Public Health Sciensano. A figure that doubles every eight days. Hospitalizations, they have increased by 95% in one week, which worries exhausted staff. The national positivity rate of people tested now exceeds 15%, with much higher peaks in Wallonia. A cry for help has been launched by hospitals in Liège, on the verge of saturation, and patients hospitalized in Brussels must be distributed to other provinces. About a hundred “clusters” have also been identified in retirement homes.
And yet, the measures announced on Friday October 16 by the new government of the liberal Alexander De Croo appeared to fall short of this reality. No doubt because they had to be bitterly negotiated with the regions and communities, which exercise part of the competence in the field of health, making the coordination between… nine ministers very complex.
Flanders and Wallonia seemed particularly opposed to the most emblematic measure decided on last week: the total closure, for four weeks, of bars and restaurants. A decision with a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. The return to teleworking has been generalized, the sale of alcohol banned after 8 p.m. and family and social contact strictly limited.
Monday, October 19, the ministers of health announced another measure: asymptomatic patients will no longer be tested. A measure intended primarily to relieve laboratories and general practitioners overwhelmed by requests, but also to reduce waiting times for results, which sometimes reach more than five days. An overload which now results in long delays for patients presenting the symptoms of the disease.
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