Live | Steven Van Gucht: ‘Still a long way from...

Live | Steven Van Gucht: ‘Still a long way from...
Live | Steven Van Gucht: ‘Still a long way from...

There are again less than 5,000 patients in Belgian hospitals, but the pressure on care remains high. Watch the press conference of the National Crisis Center above for an update on the corona virus.

‘The trend of the past weeks is continuing,’ says Sciensano virologist Steven Van Gucht. ‘We saw a peak around the end of October, and now an equally rapid decline. The infection rate in Belgium is now lower than that in the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg. But we are still a long way from the safe harbor. ‘

‘We see that mobility increased somewhat last week,’ he continues. ‘There is an upward movement in all provinces, which is normal after the autumn break. It is important that we continue to focus on teleworking and keep limiting our close contacts. ‘

Van Gucht also elaborates on the most recent figures: ‘We see an average of 3,142 new cases per day, a decrease of 35 percent. After a short period of slowdown, the decline seems to be accelerating again. The impact of the new test strategy is not yet visible in the figures, it will only be before Friday. The decline is less pronounced in children and teenagers. More than half of the infections occur in people between 20 and 60 years old. ‘

‘New hospital admissions are also continuing to decline. This concerns an average of 282 new admissions per day. There are now 1,106 patients in intensive care. The pressure on hospitals is decreasing, but it is still very high. ‘

‘Rapid tests in companies as a supplement to PCR tests’

Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon and Professor Herman Goossens today provide more information about the testing strategy. “PCR tests remain very important,” says Facon. ‘But we are adding new techniques, such as rapid tests.’

“PCR tests remain the gold standard because they have the greatest reliability,” Facon continues. Rapid tests are almost as reliable as PCR tests in patients who show symptoms, provided they are taken within five days of the first symptoms. We still do a PCR test for vulnerable people or for strong suspicions of infection with a negative rapid test. ‘

In asymptomatic patients, the rapid antigen tests are significantly less reliable than PCR tests. But they can be of value with low-risk groups. Such as companies, but not residential care centers. Because the virus circulation is higher in those collectivities, antigen tests can be used at low-risk contacts, as an addition to the PCR tests of the high-risk contacts.

In addition to rapid antigen tests, we also see saliva tests emerging, which can provide added value because the saliva can be collected by the individuals themselves. Self-tests are currently not legally permitted, but we are investigating how self-tests can also be included in the test strategy in the long term. There are also scientific studies on tracking dogs and breathing tests. ‘

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