“Models show that there is a potential risk for a fourth major wave with a heavy burden on hospitals”

Relax or preventively maintain the existing rules? This is the question before the Concertation Committee which will be held this Friday at 2 p.m. Because during this meeting, the authorities will have to decide on the measures still in force in our country, in particular the question of wearing a mask.

For virologist Steven Van Gucht, relaxing the rules for wearing a mask should not be decided today. “The political world always wants to go a little too fast …”, he declared this morning on Radio 1. If he specifies that this will happen one day, it is necessary for him that it intervenes at the right time.

Because for him, all the dangers of the coronavirus are not yet behind us. Despite a good vaccination rate in our country – with a Flanders which appears to be the best student – the risk exists. “There are still models – both in Belgium and abroad – which show that there is a potential risk for a fourth major wave with a high load, and even an overload, for hospitals! “

For him, the uncertainty related to the efficacy of the vaccine and to non-vaccinated people does not allow too much relaxation. He nevertheless specifies that if a new wave occurs, the models show that it could be overcome with “soft” measures. “If you have 20 to 30 percent fewer risky contacts, you can suppress that wave. Before, it was 70 percent with a lockdown. It is not necessary any more. Soft measures include masks, a Covid Safe Ticket and teleworking, ”he explains.

A question that divides

The Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, but also the Flemish Minister-President, Jan Jambon, have spoken in favor of a consequent relaxation of one of the last health measures which affect the entire population, believing that it will not be indicated more than in places not sufficiently ventilated where the proximity between people is too great such as public transport. The idea would be to reverse the current logic and only delimit a few exceptions. Federal Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke was much more reserved. The solution will therefore be a compromise between these trends, we commented Thursday to a good source.

The president of the group of experts who advise the government (GEMS), Erika Vlieghe, warned on Sunday against the temptation to relax the measure too quickly. A GEMS report from Tuesday points in this direction. He sends a warning to political leaders in the face of a rise in contamination and hospitalizations during the fall and asks that an emergency plan be put in place if the situation were to deteriorate. In the eyes of experts, wearing a mask must remain an obligation indoors when people mix with people whose vaccination, immune or test status is unknown, as well as in the event of high density of attendance.


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