Madrid Desk, Oct 31 (efe-epa).- Belgium is preparing to enter another lockdown amid record breaking numbers of coronavirus infections that have seen the country become the worst affected by the second wave of the pandemic, as officials in Italy mull their own confinement measures after they announced the extension of a scheme protecting jobs that are at risk.
Meanwhile Germany, where a lockdown will take effect on Monday, broke its own record for daily Covid-19 infections.
Belgium, which is poised for another lockdown, registered an average of 15,847 new infections every day last week, the country’s public health institute said Saturday, consolidating its position as Europe’s worst-affected country by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rising cases are placing heavy pressure on the country’s healthcare systems, with an average of 90 people dying from the disease each day, an increase of 140 percent compared to the previous week.
Over the past 14 days, Belgium has had an average of 1,701.2 cases per 100,000 people, the highest in Europe.
Amid the rising infections, Belgium announced more restrictions on Friday night, including the closure of all “non-essential” shops until mid-December, in the hopes of “avoiding the collapse” of its healthcare services.
“Our country is in a state of sanitary emergency. The pressure is immense, as you have undoubtedly seen in recent days,” Belgium’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, told a press conference Friday night. “At the moment, there is only one choice, and that is for all of us to support our healthcare sector as much as we can. We have to limit our physical contacts as much as possible.”
“We are going back into a strict lockdown, which has only one purpose: to ensure that our healthcare system does not collapse,” De Croo said.
The measures – which De Croo described as Belgium’s “last chance” and which take effect on Sunday – include the closure of businesses such as hairdressers and beauty parlors, but supermarkets and food delivery services will be allowed to stay open.