BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium could run out of beds in intensive care units within two weeks if the number of people in hospitals continue to increase at its current rate, an official said on Wednesday.
The nation of 11 million people has Europe’s second highest infection rate per capita after the Czech Republic, with new cases doubling every thirteen days and hitting a peak of more than 18,000 on Oct. 20, almost a ten-fold increase from the peak of the spring wave of the pandemic.
The number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is doubling every eight days – to 757 as of Sunday – with 4,827 people in hospitals.
Health Ministry spokesman Yves Van Laethem told a news conference Belgium’s maximum capacity of 2,000 ICU beds might be reached in two weeks if the increases continues.
“Within four days, by the end of the week, we should pass the milestone of 1,000 patients in intensive care,” Van Laethem said.
“If the curve doesn’t change with our behaviour, we should reach 2,000 patients in intensive care in two weeks, our maximum capacity.”
The region of Brussels, one of the hardest hit in Europe, ordered on Saturday all sport and cultural facilities to close and residents will face a longer curfew from Monday.
On the same day, 590 people were admitted to a hospital in the country, the equivalent of the peak during the first wave of March, April.
Belgium had 1,288 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past week. With 10,810 total deaths, it has one of the highest per capita fatality rates in the world.
(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Jan Strupczewski)