Belgium fears surge of COVID-19 instances in coming weeks

Brussels, January 12

Belgium could see an increase in daily cases of COVID-19 infections in coming weeks as more Belgians undergo tests on return from holidays, the government said on Tuesday.

Health ministry spokesman Yves Van Laethem said a rise in cases in recent days could be explained by more tests being done than during the winter holidays.

“The situation remains fragile, hesitant. There could be an upsurge in the coming weeks, although a reverse evolution cannot be ruled out either,” Van Laethem told a news conference.

Van Laethem said Belgium recorded its highest annual mortality rate last year since the Spanish flu and the end of the First World War in 1918.

Data from the Sciensano health institute showed that the total number of positive COVID-19 tests reached 665,220 on Monday, with 2,000 new daily cases detected on average in the last seven days.

“This increase affects all age groups globally but is more pronounced in 10-year-olds, young adults and – a little more worryingly, because they probably did not go on vacation – in people over the age of 90,” he said.

The country of 11 million, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 mortality rates per capita, with 20,122 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The federal government will meet on January 22 to review the lockdown measures. Belgium’s southern Wallonia region decided on Tuesday to extend its nightly curfew until February 15. — Reuters

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