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A month-long semi-lockdown in Belgium is working to limit the spread and death of COVID-19, health officials said on Wednesday, calling for continued vigilance.

Home of the EU institutions and located at a busy crossroads for European travel, Belgium has been one of the hardest hit areas in a second wave of coronavirus on the continent.

“For the first time in weeks or even several months, all indicators are going in the right direction, which means they are all going down: the number of infections, hospitalizations and – for the first time – the number of deaths,” he told Yves Van Laethem , Spokesman for the COVID-19 Crisis Center.

Restrictions, including closing bars, restaurants and cafes, arranging to work from home wherever possible, and restricting social contacts have been found to be effective.

In terms of the number of infections per 100,000 people who fell from number one a few weeks ago, it ranks 14th in Europe.

And the number of deaths has fallen slightly by five percent in the past seven days to a daily average of 185.

Van Laethem noted, however, that there are still “many patients in the hospital”, recently just over 6,000.

The number of patients with milder symptoms declined, but the number of patients in intensive care, 1,400, particularly those on ventilation tubes, was “on a plateau,” he said.

Van Laethem added that Belgium has again tested asymptomatic people and people from regions in other countries that are at high risk of infection.

Authorities suspended testing for these groups of people a month ago after laboratories were overwhelmed by the increase in second wave infections.

The resumption means that people who need to be quarantined can be tested on the seventh day when the detection rates are higher.

The quarantine period is 10 days, with authorities in many cases adding an additional four “preventive” days when people can go out masked but must avoid contact with those at risk of the disease.

Since the pandemic started earlier this year, Belgium has registered 540,605 COVID-19 cases and counted 14,839 deaths from the virus.

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© 2020 AFP

Quote: Belgium is going in the right direction with virus numbers (2020, November 18). Retrieved November 18, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-11-belgium-virus-figures.html

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