Friday, April 10, 2020


A brief summary on the situation in Belgium. The charts with het most relevant parameters reveal a conflicting image. The death tally now stands at 3,019 cases. For an (official) population numberting around 11,600,000 individuals, that's a rather dire proportion, only surpassed by Italy and Spain. Yesterday, the number of deaths was a whopping 500, the biggest daily increase since the start of the crisis.

On the other hand: there are NO Italian, Spanish or NYC scenarios here. The situation in the hospitals, while harrowing in several in the province of Limburg, is under control. This very morning I was in Onze Lieve Vrouw in Aalst for a treatment where I spoke with, of course, the nurses but also my doctor, a very accomplished oncologist who is the very opposite of the bullshitting type.

The nurses were - how shall I put it - rather relaxed. Definitely less under stress than two weeks ago. They say their hospital, among the best in Belgium, can cope. As can the majority of the nation's hospitals. Indeed, at the outbreak of Covid-19 in Belgium there were a total of 1,900 ICU's nationwide. Some three weeks ago measures were taken to raise that total to 2,650, which would have placed Belgium in the top tier segment of ICUs per capita in the EU. Today, some 2,200 are available, but 'only' around half of them are occupied… and ICU occupancy has even been slowly decreasing over the past few days.

My doctor's story more or less confirmed this relatively optimistic outlook - as did the assessment of a GP who is a client last week. Plus, there is also the fact that to date, deaths in the medical frontline have been 'limited' to Isaura Castermans, a 30-year old nurse from Zutendaal, Limburg. A very sad story involving a beautiful, dedicated young woman who 'was not afraid to die'. But compared to this single case, Italy's tally of over 100 doctors (I don't have the number of fatalities among nurses, but it too must be harrowing) is downright apocalyptic.

So how come that on paper Belgium's numbers look Southern European, while 'in the field' (or 'on the surface', whichever you prefer) the situation does not seem so dire.

I guess that's because of the very recent (only the last four or five days) glut of fatalities in homes for the elderly, of which the management now suddenly have decided to reveal rather harrowing statistics. It seems most in not all of them have been left pretty much to their own devices, and infections among patrons and personnel have been rampant for weeks. Only now does this phenomenon begin to contribute to a significant uptick in the statistics, obliterating the reassuring news emerging from the hospitals.

I'm not a believer in conspiracy theories, but something a client of mine who is the general manager of a home for the elderly in Jette, Brussels, made me think twice. He complained bitterly of not having received a single mask, disinfecting bottle, or any other item or financial support, to help contain the spread of the virus in his establishment. Half of his personnel does not turn up. His daughter was forced to assist in the kitchen. My client told me the government is deliberately witholding aid to the (very) elderly in hopes that when all this is over, there will be a lot less pensions and doctor bills to pay.

Well, I don't know about that. It's a stark accusation. But while I am still absolutely sure there's not something of a blueprint envisaging just such a senior-killing scheme, I AM certain that many among our Moral Betters, chief among them the greens, socialists and liberals, are secretly - or not so secretly - glad the corona virus is wreaking such a heavy toll among a population of which the care indeed is rather costly but more importantly, of which the voting behaviour is not very progressive.

Be all that as it may, we must keep our heads cool, use our brains and above all keep adhering to the strictest guidelines re social distancing, hygiene, and disinfection. Even if there are promising signs we are getting this devil under control, our efforts to contain it may not slack for another three months at least.

Amidst all the turmoil, the very real suffering of too many people, and the fact that the lives of so many are turned upside down, it is time to reflect.

It's Good Friday, on which Christians commemmorate the Crucifixion of Christ.

A painting by Gabriel Metsu, an accomplished Dutch artist in Holland's Golden Age.

Stay safe and stay healthy. But remember that the best chance for that is to stay cautious and alert.


No comments: