COVID-19 surveillance

1. Epidemiology of COVID-19 

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic started in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 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. People can remain asymptomatic or present with a broad spectrum of symptoms. The risk of severe disease increases markedly with age and previous underlying conditions. For the general public, vaccination, handwashing, social distancing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces and wearing a face mask are the recommended measures to protect oneself. Vaccines are available in Belgium since January 2021; more information on vaccines can be found here.

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

In Belgium, COVID-19 is monitored by Sciensano

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 in 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 on the latest figures and trends.

Four key indicators are followed; for the three first ones a moving average is computed on the last 7 days 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 deaths;
  • the number of ICU beds occupied.

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.

Additional indicators are followed as the number of occupied beds in hospitals and ICU, vaccination coverage, the number of tests performed, and the % of those that are positive (positivity rate).

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

Information is available on different pages

Since the data are in constant evolution, this sheet refers to the main web pages where figures are updated regularly. Data can be consulted in several places and in several forms:

  1. Dynamic dashboard
  2. Reports:
    1. The Tuesday report presents the main indicators by region and their evolution. 
    2. Weekly reports provide figures from all the surveillance related to COVID-19.
    3. Thematic reports with in-depth analyses of specific topics are available.
    4. The clinical hospital surveillance report provides more information about hospitalized patients and patients in intensive care.
    5. The wastewater surveillance report provides complementary information on the circulation of COVID-19.
  3. Open data are available
  4. Frequently asked questions related to the different COVID-19 surveillances, data collection and ways of reporting are answered in a specific document.

International data can be consulted on different platforms

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-19 deaths are also hampered by differences in the methodology of counting COVID-19 deaths.

Epidemiological International data can be consulted on several platforms:

2. 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 competencies of the regions. 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.
Positivity rate
The positivity rate is the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that are positive.