Belgium’s Hospitals Can Cope With Omicron Wave Yet to Crest, Experts Say
(Bloomberg) -- Belgium’s hospitals should be able to cope with the current surge of omicron even as new cases may as much as quadruple by mid-January, experts said on Thursday.
Hospitals will likely have enough beds available in intensive-care units to handle the peak of infections expected by the end of the month, virologist Steven Van Gucht told reporters following Thursday’s meeting by the federal government and regions.
Belgium decided to maintain restrictive measures adopted late last year, which include mandatory telework four days per week. Belgium eased Covid isolation rules earlier this week to relieve health-care and testing facilities and in late December ordered theaters and cinemas reopened after protests from the cultural sector.
The number of daily infections reached a record 28,000 new cases on Jan. 4, of which at least 80% stemmed from the omicron variant. As many as 125,000 daily cases are possible by mid-January, Van Gucht said.
Omicron has taken hold across the European Union, where daily cases of coronavirus exceeded 1 million on Wednesday for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Nations and businesses continue to tighten restrictions, with Italy imposing a vaccine mandate for most activities and Latvia extending a lockdown until the end of February.
Even with rising cases, Belgium is “well-armed” with more people getting vaccinated and receiving booster shots, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
More than 8.8 million people have been vaccinated in Belgium, or 76% of the population, according to the Sciensano national public-health institute.
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