Belgian projections warn not to relax measures too quickly

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BRUSSELS (AP) – The Belgian government on Monday presented scientific projections of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, indicating that it would be very risky to largely relax the current restrictions in the coming weeks.

Based on a model that eases measures as early as next week, Belgium could face its biggest peak in coronavirus cases to date, while a similar easing on April 1 indicated a much more moderate increase. The projections were based on the spread of the most contagious variant first identified in the UK.

The government will decide on Friday whether to extend restrictions which include a nationwide curfew and the continued closure of bars and restaurants while mass events, indoors or outdoors, also continue to prevail. be banned.

After Belgium, a nation of 11.5 million people, was one of the hardest hit in the first wave of the pandemic and again saw a huge increase in November, the government was able to maintain the cases at a manageable level since, although it was too much. high to allow for a major relaxation of restrictions.

The point of giving citizens more freedom is approaching, however, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

“An important message from the projections is that we are approaching a point where the risk of a third peak is seriously diminishing,” De Croo said.

“This point is not for tomorrow or next week, but it is not that far,” he said.

More more than 21,750 people have died from COVID-19 in densely populated Belgium, making it one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

With increasing economic losses, pressure on the government has increased in recent days to allow widespread relaxation of the rules to give businesses a better chance to make it through the year.

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