Belgium says coronavirus peak still ahead

Members of the medical personnel work as patients suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated at the intensive care unit at MontLegia CHC clinic in Liege, Belgium, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The peak of Belgium’s coronavirus infections still lies ahead, the health ministry said on Thursday, adding much will depend on how strictly people follow lockdown measures.

Belgium, a country of some 11.5 million people, has so far confirmed 6,235 coronavirus cases and reported 220 deaths due to the disease, which is now ravaging Europe after originating in China late last year.

The government will discuss on Friday whether to extend the lockdown, meant to curb the spread of the virus, beyond April 5.

Belgium added 1,298 new coronavirus cases on March 25, a spokesman for the Belgian health ministry said on Thursday, the biggest daily jump since the start of the pandemic.

While Belgium hopes to step up testing to 10,000 a day, the most recent rise in confirmed cases reflects in part its growing capacity, which currently stands at more than 2,000 tests daily.

The Belgian government has pledged 1 billion euros ($1.10 billion) of emergency aid for hospitals last week.

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