Belgium Facing ’Tsunami’ Of Covid-19 Infections
By Staff, Agencies
Belgium is losing control of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and is very close to being overwhelmed by a “tsunami” of infection, the country’s health minister warned.
Frank Vandenbroucke, the federal minister, told the broadcaster RTL that Belgians needed to radically alter their behavior.
He described the situation in Francophone Wallonia in the south and in the country’s capital, Brussels, as “the worst, and therefore the most dangerous in all of Europe.”
He said: “We are the most affected region in all of Europe. We are really close to a tsunami … that we no longer control what is happening. Today, we can still control what is happening, but with enormous difficulties and stress.
“If it continues to increase, the number of hospitalizations will be such that we will have to postpone more and more non-Covid care, which is also very dangerous. [The government] has only one message to the public: protect yourself, protect your loved ones, so as not to be contaminated.”
The minister’s comments came as government’s latest restrictions intended to control the spread came into force.
For four weeks from Monday, all bars and restaurants will be closed. The sale of alcohol will be banned after 8pm and a curfew will be imposed between midnight and 5am.
People will only be allowed to have one “close contact” outside their own household. Four guests, changeable every two weeks, may visit homes if they keep a distance when inside.
The new Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo, had said on Friday the situation facing the country was “more serious” than it had been in March before the first nationwide lockdown.
Behind-the-scenes the government had been torn over how to respond to the spiraling number of infections. But Vandenbroucke, with the prime minister’s support, ultimately convinced sceptics in the government that social contacts in the hospitality sector had been fueling the crisis.
“The main thing is people’s behavior,” Vandenbroucke said.
“They must understand that they must protect themselves and their loved ones, therefore respect the distance, wear the mask if there is no distance, limit the number of contacts… This is essential. I can only repeat: the virus is no one’s fault, so let’s not make one or the other feel guilty. But now, rectifying this situation is everyone’s responsibility.”