The coronavirus in Belgium has prompted the authorities to take containment measures to slow the spread of covid-19 on our territory. But is containment paying off? Our journalist Luc Gilson put the question to Yves Van Laethem, infectious disease specialist at CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels, and Emmanuel André, inter-federal spokesperson for coronavirus. They were the guests of RTL INFO 19H this Friday.
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Yves Van Laethem: For the past week, we have been between 500 and 600 hospital admissions. We have a number of deaths that varies a little, and we must insist on the fact that if we have 132 deaths, therefore less today, that we will not have more tomorrow. This number will continue to go up and down for a few more weeks. But all of this goes in the same direction: we are reaching the goal, reaching the summit. But we have a long descent before us.
Emmanuel André: Yes. What we can really see is that this virus … it happened. Somehow you couldn’t stop him from coming back. You couldn’t block it completely either. It is not possible. No country can do this. What we have managed to do is manage this arrival of the virus and make sure that we take a hit that is acceptable. Even if there are many very difficult things. Don’t overload our health care system. Slow down all our gestures and our economy, the time necessary to pass the first course. And then we will enter another phase. Not a phase where the risk will disappear, but where we will have regained control and we will be able to make choices about how we go back to a life that is more and more like the one we had before. Even if we know that for many months, we will still have to adapt our behavior.
Will containment be extended?
Following the experts’ answers, Luc Gilson asked them if they thought that the containment measures, already extended until April 19, should end later.
Emmanuel André: What I think is that we have been extremely clear that what will determine the possible lifting or adaptation of certain measures is not a date. These are very specific indicators that show that we are in full control of what is happening and that we can afford to lift certain measures.
Luc Gilson: If there was a national security council this evening, what would you advise? In view of the current figures?
Emmanuel André: We continue. On April 19 all the indicators will be analyzed very carefully. From current figures and from other countries, we know that this virus will circulate and will always be around us, and will have the potential to infect many more people in the coming months. So it is how we will live with this risk of infection that will be decisive. These choices will be made gradually and it is not a date that will determine the whole.
Luc Gilson: Is that your feeling too, Yves Van Laethem?
Yves Van Laethem: Yes quite. Most countries that have tried the lockdown have shown that when it worked, it took about two months. And we are not yet two months away from that. So I would be very surprised if we got out before the start of May.