Belgium is one of the (very) bad pupils of the Covid-19 crisis in Europe. Our country even took pride of place in the ranking of contaminations per million inhabitants. Our European neighbors therefore looked with wide eyes at the beloved Belgian curves, wondering why we were so poorly classified. It is with this in mind that the Dutch daily De Volkskrant interviewed Marc Van Ranst, in order to understand how we got there. And, “spoiler alert”, the Flemish virologist does not go hand in hand when it comes to commenting on the Belgian management of the health crisis.
“First of all, our country is small, with a high population density and an open economy, but this also applies to the Netherlands,” he says. “Unfortunately, there are two big differences. First, our handling of the coronavirus crisis is just not good. Our government is deciding very slowly, and on top of that, our tendency to play by the rules is not The best. As soon as a Belgian sees a back door, he sneaks in. He does so when he has to pay taxes, but also when it comes to following measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus “, indicates- he does. “You add to that our failing policy, and you have the explanation for the bad figures in Belgium. Even if I have to admit that the majority of the population respects the measures very well.”
“8 ministers of health and they don’t even know each other by name”
There are several explanations for this, according to Van Ranst. “Our population knows too many dissidents. As soon as measures are taken, the first question is how to get around them, the second is whether there will be any checks. Then the measures we put in place are deemed ludicrous. – you should see how many virologists our country has today … – and the experts are also discredited. I know this is happening elsewhere but in Belgium we have elevated it to the level of art. ”
Beyond the behavior of the population, Van Ranst also attacks our policies and the famous institutional lasagna. “There are 8 ministers of health and I’m sure they don’t even know each other by name. It’s obviously crazy: when a decision is made, only one person should be able to press the button for the measure be implemented across the country. ”
The fact that the management of the first wave was done under the Wilmès government did not help our country either, according to Van Ranst. “Because the formation of the new government was very difficult, new elections hung in our face. The politicians were therefore afraid to take unpopular measures. Everything was slowed down and smoothed every time, despite the urgent recommendations of the experts, who demanded to intervene. “