This week Belgium recorded the very best dying price from COVID-19 circumstances in Europe.
In Flanders – the area worst hit by the virus – many are asking “why is it so bad here?”
A big aged inhabitants? Some densely populated cities? (though you would not know that throughout the lockdown).
Was it the very fact many from right here went snowboarding in Italy at the beginning of the outbreak and picked up the virus. Or had been errors created from the beginning?
That is actually a query many have been asking within the metropolis of Sint-Truiden the place we met the mayor, Veerle Heeren.
She has confronted questions and criticism after permitting a massive carnival to go forward on the finish of February.
Thousands attended and docs informed us the virus could have been allowed to unfold.
But the mayor insists nobody may have identified what was to come back again then.
She stated: “Nobody spoke about corona at that time.
“You know, it began with us on 9 March, the start of March.
“And the first measures from our national government were taken on 13 March.”
The mayor, who has been applauded for her dealing with of the disaster since, is aware of what it is to face the nightmare of COVID-19.
Her husband spent weeks in a coma with the virus and stays in hospital.
She says it has been powerful personally however she felt the necessity to carry on working, to assist the neighborhood.
Sint-Truiden is in Limburg – the worst affected of Flanders’ 5 provinces – the place hospitals, care properties and households have been feeling the stress of tackling the virus.
Dr Raf De Keersmaecker, chairman of the Limburg Province Association of GPs, is aware of of many colleagues who’ve caught COVID, some ending up in hospital.
We meet him exterior a surgical procedure the place sufferers not exhibiting virus signs are taken to at least one constructing and people who are taken to a different.
Doctors in full protecting fits and masks accompany the latter.
He has a agency idea on why Belgium’s dying price is so excessive in comparison with different international locations – higher transparency.
He stated: “We record everything. Deaths everywhere, not just in hospitals.”
And that features deaths suspected to be from COVID however not truly examined. More of these deaths are in care properties.
Dr De Keersmaecker stated: “If we think the people are dying of COVID, we count it.
“Of course, that (accounts for) the upper stage of lifeless individuals in our nation.
“In most countries they don’t do that. They only take deaths from the hospitals. We even have people dying at home.”
The differences in recording COVID deaths make it laborious to match statistics between nations and will imply Belgium’s determine is extra lifelike and even decrease than knowledge now suggests.
It may additionally imply the variety of deaths from COVID in different nations is greater than thought.
Health ministry spokesman Emmanuel Andre recognises Belgium’s approach of recording deaths pushes the nation to the highest of the rankings however is unapologetic.
He argues it is the easiest way to get a true image of what is actually happening.
He stated: “So the point of including suspected cases is to get the best picture of the level of this outbreak in our community, including outside the hospitals.
“And if we all know this then we are able to higher act on controlling this outbreak on the supply of an infection.”
The intention in Belgium now is to check everybody with COVID signs whether or not in hospital, care properties and the broader neighborhood.
That will probably be a expensive and prolonged course of, however will inform the story of what is actually taking place.
But till different international locations do the identical comparisons between nations could also be meaningless.