The Covid-19 epidemic is mounting and increasing the number of deaths. A first peak is expected in the coming days which will tell if the country has not been long in confining itself.

Max HELLEFF

The Covid-19 epidemic is mounting and increasing the number of deaths. A first peak is expected in the coming days which will tell if the country has not been long in confining itself.

From our correspondent, Max Hellef (Brussels) – When will the epidemic peak? The question torments the Belgians. They understand, with graphics, that they are only at the beginning of their problems. On Friday, the authorities counted 37 deaths attributed to the coronavirus and 2,257 people infected, 462 more than the day before. 837 people are hospitalized.

This weekend, hospitals expect a sharp increase in the number of hospitalizations. Virologists emphasize, however, that the next two days will not correspond to a peak, but that the number of deaths could still increase exponentially for a fortnight. And already the question of “who should live or die?” is being raised publicly when the fear of not having enough artificial respirators is growing.

It’s the weekend of great fear for all hospitals in Belgium

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The nursing staff deplores the fact that the “lockdown parties” have been able to boost future hospitalizations. On March 12, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès enacted the first rules of quarantine: closed schools, restaurants and bistros banned from access, standards of social distancing, etc. As these measures did not take effect until midnight the next day, many young people took advantage of the situation to gather and celebrate for the last time. And, regret the doctors, to accelerate the transmission of the virus between them, then fatally with the population.

This point could not fail to enter into the analysis of the experts who, on Tuesday, were the basis of the decision taken by the National Security Council. Since then, Belgians have been asked to stay at home, to limit travel to what is strictly necessary (supply, banks, post offices, health care, etc.) and to shop in stores that have remained open (human and animal food, pharmacies, bookstores).

The kingdom imposes a general confinement from this Wednesday noon until April 5 to restrict the movement of people. As with its neighbors, the objective is to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

However, it still took long hours for the concept of containment to take root in their heads. On Wednesday, on the first day of the enhanced measures, the capital’s parks were filled with young people who came to taste the spring sun. Neither government orders nor fear of illness seemed to be able to reason them. It was not until Thursday, under a cloudy sky, that these rallies disappeared.

The police return everything that has no valid reason to be on the street to his home. Access to second residences, most often to the sea or the Ardennes, is prohibited. The fines have been increased significantly. However, the police must rely on the good faith of those arrested. In Belgium, unlike France, there is no question at the moment of imposing on the citizen the possession of a form which would justify his trips in advance.

A mistake? The extent of the spread of the virus in the coming weeks will tell. The authorities are undoubtedly working on stricter measures, but nothing is leaking for the moment. Everyone dreads an Italian scenario, with confinement pushed ever further.

Thursday evening, the public channel RTBF broadcast a long report shot at the Cremona hospital in northern Italy. The vision of the corpses, the suffering of the sick and the despair of the caregivers certainly marked the spirits on the eve of a weekend that some media already describe as dantesque.

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