Belgium, one of the countries most bereaved in the world by the pandemic in relation to its number of inhabitants, on Sunday crossed the threshold of 20,000 deaths linked to the new coronavirus, more than half of which concern residents of retirement homes.
This country of 11.5 million inhabitants has recorded 662,694 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and 20,038 deaths (against 19,992 on Saturday), according to figures published by the public health institute Sciensano.
This threshold has been crossed as the country begins its anti-Covid vaccination campaign by first targeting retirement homes, since January 5.
At least half of the deaths from the pandemic are residents of these facilities. Authorities announced on December 18 that the virus had already killed 10,270 elderly people living in retirement homes.
Amnesty International Belgium denounced in November in a vitriolic report the “abandonment” of Belgian retirement homes by the public authorities during the pandemic.
From the start, the Belgian health authorities opted for a broad census of the dead.
During the first wave, the count also included deaths potentially due to the virus without a test necessarily being able to confirm it.
Since the second wave, the census includes all deceased patients who have tested positive even if the cause of death is not the virus.
This has the effect of ranking Belgium first in the world (excluding micro-states such as San Marino) for mortality reported to the population, according to AFP data. The country has a rate of 1,725 deaths per million inhabitants.
The 5,000 dead mark in the country was crossed on April 17 and that of 10,000 dead on September 30.
During the peak of the first wave, in April, Belgium had recorded for ten days more than 250 daily deaths, with a record of 322 on April 8, still according to Sciensano figures.
The curve, flat at a very low level all summer, started to rise again in early October with the second wave, until reaching a new peak on November 10 (218 deaths).
The decline was then much less marked than in the spring, and the country still currently has 58 deaths each day on average (according to data from the past week).
Contamination side, over the last seven days the country has recorded an average of nearly 1,780 new infections daily. Around 20,000 new cases per day had been identified at the end of October.