COVID-19

1. Background

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic started in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China, as a cluster of pneumonia cases from unknown origin diagnosed in people who had been to the food market of Huanan. Whole-genome sequencing indicated a novel coronavirus as the causative pathogen – currently known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). On 11 March 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

The virus is transmitted from human to human by infectious droplets. The most frequent symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include extreme fatigue, muscle pain, and loss of taste and/or smell. In 80% of cases, the infections are mild, with some people having few or no symptoms. The risk of severity however increases markedly with age. People over 65 and certainly over 80 are particularly at risk. Obesity and underlying conditions such as serious heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppression, or an active malignant disease also increase the risk of serious development. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but numerous studies are ongoing.

An overview of the scientific information about COVID-19 based on updated literature monitoring is available in the Sciensano fact sheet.

2. Epidemiological situation

Belgium

In Belgium, the first confirmed case was reported on 3 February 2020, in an asymptomatic person repatriated from Wuhan. The second case was registered almost one month later, on 1 March 2020. This case was followed by a rapid growth of the number of cases occurring after the Carnival holidays. Since then, the virus is widely spreading in the country.

The Belgian institute for health, Sciensano, monitors the epidemic based on the data collected by its surveillance networks and reports daily on the latest numbers and trends.

Four key indicators are monitored; a moving average is computed on the last 7 days for each indicator and compared to the average of the 7 previous days:

  • the number of confirmed cases;
  • the number of new hospitalizations of laboratory-confirmed cases;
  • the number of ICU beds occupied; and
  • the number of deaths.

Moreover, the reproduction rate, that is the average number of people infected by a person carrying the virus, is calculated. If the reproduction rate is over 1, the disease is spreading in the population.

More information about the COVID-19 mortality will be made available on a dedicated page of this website.

Results

Since the data are in constant evolution, this sheet refers to the main webpages where numbers are updated on a daily basis. Data can be consulted in several places and several forms:

  1. Dynamic dashboard
  2. Reports:
    1. Daily reports present the main indicators by region and their evolution. In the appendix, more detailed numbers and trends by province are available.
    2. Weekly reports were elaborated during the wave 1 to provide more detailed analyses.
    3. Thematic reports with in-depth analyses of specific topics such as:
      1. Hospitalised COVID-19 patients
      2. COVID-19 infections in children
    4. A weekly Nursing Home report is published every Friday
  3. Open data are available
  4. Frequently asked questions are answered in a specific document

International

Comparisons among countries should be interpreted with caution due to differences in testing strategy, in laboratory capacities, and in the effectiveness of the surveillance. Comparisons of COVID deaths are also hampered by differences in the methodology of counting COVID-19 deaths, namely some countries counted deaths in possible COVID-19 cases as COVID-19 deaths, while others only considered deaths in laboratory-confirmed cases.

Epidemiological International data can be consulted on several platforms:

3. Read more

Besides his mission of surveillance, Sciensano is also involved in scientific research projects on COVID-19. In collaboration with partners, Sciensano coordinates and participates in projects aiming to better understand the virus and its effects on population health. Here an overview of the existing projects.

Specific aspects of COVID-19 monitoring, prevention, and control are delegated to the regional level. Further information on these aspects is available via the following websites:

For the latest news.

For more information about the current measures taken by the government in Belgium.

If you have one symptom of COVID-19, please stay at home and call your doctor.

If you are a health professional, you can find the procedures for managing COVID cases on the website of Sciensano.

Definitions

Moving average
The moving average is calculated as the average number of deaths across the last 7 days. The reason to use the moving average is that it smooths the daily fluctuations, and therefore, allows for a more robust appreciation of trends than the number of deaths that occurred during the last day.
Reproduction rate
The average number of people infected by a person carrying the virus. If the reproduction rate is higher than 1, the disease is spreading in the population.