Small rebound or second wave? How to read the communication from Sciensano

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Sciensanos communication is criticized, it would distress the population. So, what parameters to monitor to gauge the evolution of the Covid epidemic?

Data showing the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in Belgium seems very disturbing. An incidence index up 198%, more than 500 new cases per day, noted Sciensano for this Thursday. Other signals point in the same direction: in Brussels, the number of positive tests is on the rise. On the side ofAntwerp, it’s much worse.



“It’s anxious because it doesn’t reflect reality.”

Jean-Luc Gala

Head of clinic in Saint-Luc (UCL)

But faced with these statistics, more and more voices criticize la communication de Sciensano. Too much anxiety inducing. Bernard Rentier, the former rector of the University of Liege, spoke of “catastrophic reports” in Sudpresse.

A case, is it a patient?

“There is indeed great confusion between the number of positive tests and the number of cases“, notes from the outset Doctor Jean-Luc Gala, head of clinic in Saint-Luc (UCL).” It is anxiety-provoking because it does not reflect reality. For me, a “case” is a patient who requires care. “However, when Sciensano speaks of” confirmed cases of Covid “, it is patients who test positive without necessarily developing symptoms. And as testing spreads widely, this number of asymptomatic “cases” is skyrocketing in the data. While in the spring, the majority of the cases listed were in severe condition.



“There are two criteria to look at to judge the current evolution. Hospitalizations and the death rate.”

Jean-Luc Gala

Head of clinic in Saint-Luc (UCL)

Analyzing over time the percentage of new cases compared to the number of tests carried out does not give an exact picture of the situation either, since the public health institute has changed its parameters: it is no longer the number of people tested but the number of tests carried out that is communicated.

Two important criteria

“There are two criteria to look at to judge the current evolution, estimates the doctor Gala. Hospitalizations and death rate.“What about these data this Thursday, August 6? On average in the last seven days, 2.4 people died daily due to Covid-19. And 22 people are admitted to the hospital.



“Patients are less sick and stay shorter.”

Antoine horror

Relations officer for the CHR Citadelle

We are far from the maddening figures of spring. Especially since the patient profile has changed. At CHR de la Citadelle, in Liege, only nine people with the new coronavirus are currently hospitalized. “With us, the average age during the first wave was 57 years old, it is rather 50 years old today, assesses Antoine Gruselin, in charge of relations for the Liege hospital. Moreover, patients are less sick and stay shorter. In the spring, the recommendation was to stay home when you had symptoms. When people arrived, they were already in serious condition. Now they come when they are not feeling well and they can go home quickly. ” The CHR de la Citadelle has not recorded any deaths linked to Covid since June 6, while since the start of the crisis, he has known 120 deaths attributed to the virus, of which about seventy have been confirmed.

“Small bounce”

“That, it’s thanks to testing, continues Antoine Gruselin. The first five days of the illness are the most important and therefore screening now allows the appropriate care to be given more quickly. ”



“This is a small bounce.”

Jean-Luc Gala

Head of clinic in Saint-Luc (UCL)

“In my opinion, this is a small rebound, judge Dr. Gala. Hospitalizations are increasing a little, it’s not out of control at the moment. But maybe it will! Nevertheless, the measures taken are strict and the first wave was stopped in two months. “On the side of the hospitals, we fear especially the arrival of autumn, with the return of vacation, school and colds, which will require a new screening effort. While the staff hasn’t really recovered from the first wave yet.



“The first five days of the disease are the most important and therefore screening now allows the appropriate care to be given more quickly.”

Antone Gruselin

Relations officer for the CHR Citadelle

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