Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano Public Health Institute reacted on HLN Live to the decisions of the consultation committee on Friday which consist, among other things, in reducing the use of mouth masks, as far as possible. According to the virologist, these relaxations are a little too early: “We are at the start of a difficult period. The big test does not come until October, November, maybe even a little later.”
“We don’t really know how the infections will progress during this period”, pour suit Steven Van Gucht. “That’s why I would have preferred the dozens to come a little later. Then there would have been more data and therefore more certainty.”
The virologist, on the other hand, is satisfied with the regional approach. “It’s good that the rules are not immediately relaxed in places where the numbers are not good, in Brussels for example. The death rate there is three times higher and the infection rate is even up to four times higher. In Flanders, there is more room for relaxation. “ But Mr Van Gucht does not want to put the whole of Flanders on an equal footing: “In Antwerp and in some municipalities around Brussels, the vaccination rate is still too low and we must pay attention to it The mask is a cheap and effective tool, so it remains an important weapon, especially in places where social distancing cannot be maintained. “
The virologist also welcomes the emphasis placed by the Consultative Committee on the importance of ventilation. Fitness centers and nightclubs, among others, will need to prove that they can effectively monitor air quality. “It is crucial in nightclubs, as in the rest of the hospitality industry where the mouth mask has hardly been used, to invest in good ventilation.” Indeed, according to the professor, the use of the Covid Safe Ticket is progress but not a miracle solution: “The probability of being infected is lower, but it is not non-existent”.
Finally, Mr. Van Gucht recalls that vaccinated people can still get sick, even if they are less likely to end up in intensive care. “If the requirement to wear a mouth mask or the screening strategy in schools were to disappear, this could have significant effects. A school can become a hotbed of infection and have to close its doors.”