Coronavirus deaths: Belgium passes 15,000 mark


While the infection rate is slowing due to current lockdown measures, Belgium reached and passed the 15,000 mark for deaths caused by complications from the virus

Provinces ban fireworks

Belgium has passed the 15,000 mark of deaths due to complications from the coronavirus. Sciensano has released the latest statistics for Covid-19 infections and deaths in the country.

Some 80% of people who have died from Covid are older than 75, and about half of them are older than 85. While many younger people are suffering long-term effects from the virus, in particular weakness and fatigue, only 63 people in the age category 25-44 have died from it. Four people under the age of 25 have died from the virus.

About an equal number of men and women have died, but this is because women live longer than men. When looking at the 45-64 age group, 65% of the deaths have occurred among men. Men are more susceptible to getting seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because their bodies contain more of a certain enzyme that the virus uses to infect cells.

If you look at how many deaths there are per 100,000 residents, you see that Flanders has the fewest deaths per capita

- Epidemiologist Brecht Devleesschauwer

The most deaths have happened in Flanders, the most populated region, which accounts for 46% of all deaths, or nearly 7,000 people. Wallonia saw 39% of deaths, and Brussels nearly 15%. While the majority of deaths in Flanders happened before the second wave, both Wallonia and Brussels have been severely affected during this period.

Since 31 August, Wallonia has seen more than 2,300 deaths compared to less than 2,000 in Flanders. Brussels has recorded 657 deaths during the period.

“Flanders has the highest population, so an absolute majority in coronavirus deaths is not surprising,” Sciensano epidemiologist Brecht Devleesschauwer told VRT. “But if you look at how many deaths there are per 100,000 residents, you get another picture. It shows that Flanders actually has the fewest deaths per capita.”

In the first wave, Brussels had the highest number of deaths per capita at 126 per 100,000, followed by Wallonia at 95 and Flanders at 74. In the second wave, Wallonia and Brussels switch places, with 63 and 54 deaths per 100,000 residents, consecutively. Flanders is at 30.

There are currently 5,897 people in hospital with the coronavirus, of which 1,325 – more than one in five – are in intensive care. More than 4,750 people tested positive over the last seven days. The infection rate is improving, with the number of positive tests dropping by 38% on the week before.

In other coronavirus news, three provinces have banned the use of fireworks during the end-of-year season. Antwerp province, West Flanders and Flemish Brabant have all announced that no fireworks should be used in New Year celebrations – or for any other reason – during the coronavirus crisis.

Fireworks are in fact officially illegal in Flanders in any case, but municipalities are allowed to make exceptions. Many do, especially during National Day in July and the New Year period. But this year, exceptions are not allowed in those three provinces.

“We have made this decision in order to prevent too many people gathering together,” explained Antwerp provincial governor Cathy Berx. “But the use of fireworks also regularly causes injuries and burns, including admission to intensive care units. Our hospitals simply cannot accommodate this this year.”

Berx further explained that she does not have the power to ban the sale of fireworks in her province and hopes that the federal government will take action there. The federal government could ban the sale and use of fireworks nation-wide as a coronavirus measure, though whether it will do so is unknown right now.

Photos, from top: ©Ophilie Delarouzee/BELGA, ©Dirck Waem/BELGA, ©Kandl/iStock/Getty Images Plus