Belgium is the most affected nation in the world in terms of the price of mortality from coronavirus.
This price, not like all the variety of deaths, is a measure of the variety of deaths in relation to the size of the inhabitants.
President Donald Trump pointed to a graph not too long ago, showing Belgium in first place and the United States in seventh place, due to the variety of deaths compared to the size of the inhabitants.
He suggested that the United States was successfully coping with the pandemic.
Belgium has 11.5 million inhabitants. This means that 66 out of 100,000 people died from Covid-19. In the United States, with a population of around 330 million, it is 19 in 100,000, according to information from Johns Hopkins University.
But these figures are “false comparisons” that have been “abused”, argues Professor Steven Van Gucht, Belgian virologist and spokesperson for the authorities.
“This is the difference between public health science and political motivation,” he says. “It is purely inspired by showing how good you are doing and how bad it is. We are actually reporting in a more correct way. “
What is totally different in Belgium?
Belgian officers say they count on an approach that no different nation in the world currently does: count deaths in hospitals and care homes, but with deaths in care homes that are suspected, unconfirmed , like Covid-19 circumstances.
According to the latest official figures from Belgium, 53% of the 7,703 deaths occurred in nursing homes.
Some 16% of deaths in nursing homes have been viewed with optimism for the coronavirus. Relaxation is suspected.
This means that more than 3,500 deaths have been counted as attributable to Covid-19, but have not been confirmed.
How it works?
“It is based on the doctor’s assessment, usually taking into account the presence of the coronavirus in the same nursing home,” said Professor Van Gucht.
“For example: if you have one or two confirmed cases, then the week after you have had 10 deaths in the same house on the basis of similar symptoms. “
They are not examined in the laboratory, but it is surely cheap to imagine that these are also associated with Covid-19
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès not so long ago promised that Belgium could also overestimate the precise variety of circumstances.
However, Professor Van Gucht says that the actual variety of deaths should be greater than what they report, as he thinks they may still lack some circumstances.
Is it just up to the count?
Another problem is that many more people here place family members in nursing homes than elsewhere in Europe.
Only the Netherlands and Luxembourg have the next occupancy price for the nursing home in relation to their population.
Long-term care in Europe
Over 65 years cared for per 1,000 people
Officials also acknowledge that mistakes were made in the beginning: poor preparation left workers in private nursing homes with private protective equipment (PPE). This allowed the virus to deploy quickly, with a devastating impact.
Now all nursing home workers are receiving masks and protective clothing, and hospital and military nurses have been brought in to help.
Epidemiologists say they have discovered a “remarkable” remark in nursing homes, according to which approximately 10% of residents are asymptomatic carriers of the virus and have developed immunity. A small consolation, however of essential scientific value.
How long has Belgium been locked out?
Since March 18, all non-essential businesses have been closed and, with the exception of emergency workers, people have been asked to stay at home.
Shopping is prohibited for at least one person per household. You can get away from home for medical reasons, to walk the dog, or for an hour on the train with a quick cleaning, or a different person, while maintaining a social distance of at least 1.5 m (5 feet) .
Belgian police have implemented the lockdown, using drones in the parks and fines for anyone who violates social distancing guidelines.
Checkpoints have been set up at the borders with Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands, allowing only cross-border employees or an urgent cause to enter Belgium.
Some cyclists have been fined after traveling to the Netherlands, then arrested by Belgian police on the way again.
Neighbors with totally different locks
All non-food retailers have also been closed, causing a strange incident in the nearby towns of Baarle Hertog and Baarle Nassau, the place where the border passes through a discounted retailer called Zeemans.
The Dutch half of the store is open, but the Belgian half has been registered, as customers have been unable to access the boys’ clothing section.
Unlike the Belgian cover, the Netherlands has what Prime Minister Mark Rutte has described as a “smart lock”, with florists, hardware stores, bakeries, clothing and toy stores remaining open.
There have been fewer deaths in the Netherlands, despite having a larger population. But unlike Belgium, the Netherlands does not count on the alleged deaths of Covid-19 in nursing homes.
I asked the top of the Belgian Covid-19 task force, Minister Philippe De Backer, if he thought that the Belgian containment technique was more practical than the very relaxed Dutch and Swedish approaches.
He told me that the Swedes were known to have followed the authorities’ recommendation, when it was “a little more difficult in a country like Belgium”. However, he was generally “impressed with the way the Belgians handled the crisis”.
What happens next?
Belgium will gradually increase its lock, in 4 phases. Starting Monday, hardware stores are open so people can buy materials to make their own masks. Masks will probably be mandatory on public transport.
Sport will also be allowed, although a maximum of two people can play collectively.
All the different retailers will open from Monday 11 May. Schools will resume on May 18, with a maximum of 10 students per class.
Cafes, restaurants and a few tourist spots will open after June 8, if there was no second peak under the circumstances. Travel abroad can also be authorized in early June.
How does Belgium test?
Tests for Covid-19 are performed on 10 to 20,000 people per day, with priority for emergency workers.
The task force also completed the screening of 210,000 residents and employees of nursing homes, discovering that 10% of people are infected. There are more than 500 nursing homes and about half have experienced an epidemic.
The antibody test for people who have had the virus will start in mid-May.
Will Belgium use surveillance applications?
Not in the short period. The head of the task force, Philippe De Backer, tells me that it is not “doable” in the meantime, so they will think about the laborious manual tracing system.
“When people are positive, it activates a call center, and our staff ask who they have been in contact with, and they will be contacted and may have to isolate themselves. “
De Backer said that using an app requires at least 60% of the nation to participate voluntarily and he believes that is not realistic in the meantime.
“I have seen reports in Austria, where they are around 9-10%. So that means you have to do 90% of the tracking some other way, “he said.
As Belgium gradually lifts its restrictions, 2,000 so-called “corona detectives” are employed, to refer to people who have been in contact with confirmed or suspected victims of Covid-19.
What did Belgium discover?
Belgian scientists have started to examine the courses that can be discovered, as well as an assessment of why three cities have had the greatest emphasis on the circumstances: Charleroi to the south, and Hasselt and Sint-Truiden to the east.
Early indications suggest that indigenous carnivals with huge gatherings of people in March could have contributed, as well as areas where second generation Italian populations are excessive. In the case of Charleroi, specialists learn whether the process was linked or not to problems of poverty and deprivation.
Up to now, Belgian hospitals have been largely ready to deal with the epidemic, with an occupancy price of 42%, but some Brussels hospitals have been overwhelmed and have had to transfer patients elsewhere.
As internment ends here slowly, September is a fear for officers, as Professor Van Gucht clearly shows.
“When all the schools are reopened after summer, the virus may spread again quickly. This is where I am most afraid, with winter coming too. “