While cases of contamination soar around the world, mainly under the effect of the greater contagiousness of the Omicron variant, Belgium seems less affected.
Contamination is certainly starting to increase again but we are far from the growth seen in other countries, as is notably the case in France where the country has detected nearly a million cases in one week.
A timing of different epidemic waves
In question, a somewhat different timing in the waves of contamination, as explained Yves Coppieters, epidemiologist and professor of public health at the ULB: “In Belgium, the Omicron wave arrived when we were in the descent of the Delta variant wave, the fourth. We see that the Omicron wave takes a little time to express itself because we have passed our epidemic peak and Omicron is not yet starting this new wave.“, he observes.
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We are therefore located between the descent of one wave and the rise of another, unlike the Hexagon: “The case is different in countries which had a Delta wave later than ours. This is typically the case for France, which is experiencing an exponential rise in its 5th wave. They have a real mix of the Delta variant and the Omicron variant. The expression of the wave is therefore much more marked in the countries which have had this delay», Adds Yves Coppieters.
Newer immunity that slows the progression of Omicron
Another point that explains a smaller epidemic recovery in our country is the recent Delta wave, which has conferred greater herd immunity in recent weeks: “Our Delta wave was very strong in Belgium, which means that many have developed an immunity to the Delta variant which can protect from Omicron. This immunity, added to that acquired by vaccination, creates an immune barrier which made the Omicron variant more difficult to start its wave in Belgium.», Explains Yves Coppieters.
Decreased quarantine time
However, despite the contamination figures which are carried away, several countries like the United States u France have decided to reduce the length of the quarantine. This has been reduced from 10 days to 7 or even 5 days so as not to slow down economic activity. The reported lower lethality of the virus does not allow to continue to circulate, contaminations are on the rise but hospitalizations remain manageable.
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A measure supported by the expert, provided that the barrier gestures are respected after the period of isolation: “When you have the Omicron variant, you are contagious three days before symptoms and 2-3 days after symptoms appear. It is true that some people can remain contagious 5-10 days after but proportionally to the scale of the population, I think it is reasonable to consider a lifting of the quarantine after five or seven days if, of course, on has a negative test and that we strongly play the game of barrier gestures with the criterion of wearing a mask“.