Twenty corona deaths on two days: ‘Perhaps heat plays a role …


At the beginning of this week, the number of deaths from the new coronavirus suddenly increased. The heat wave may play a role, says epidemiologist Brecht Devleesschauwer of the Sciensano health institute.

According to provisional figures, 9 deaths were counted on Monday and 11 on Tuesday. In recent weeks, this number has always fluctuated between 2 and 3 deaths per day, with peaks up to 5. In 15 of the 20 deaths on Monday and Tuesday were residents of residential care centers. Eighteen cases were confirmed on covid-19, the remaining two are strongly suspected.

“So it is anyway about covid cases, but the heat may also have played a role,” says Devleesschauwer. “We know that heat and elevated ozone concentrations are also risk factors for death in the same sensitive group of older and weaker people.”

However, it is too early to conclude that the heat played a decisive role. ‘We will have to keep an eye on that in the coming days and weeks. If the death rate drops again when the heat dissipates, we will be able to estimate a little better what caused this increase in the number of deaths. ‘

Virologist Steven Van Gucht confirms the increase in recent days. ‘We don’t always know the exact causes of all those deaths, but the heat has probably also played a role in recent days. The combination of an infection with the heat and the elevated ozone concentrations of the last days can be the cause of this sensitive and vulnerable population. ‘

Does that mean that the virus is gradually spreading again within the walls of the residential care centers? ‘We have no indications that there are currently major outbreaks within the residential care centers,’ says Van Gucht.


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