28 October 2020: Belgium now has the highest number of coronavirus cases per head of population anywhere in Europe.
28 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – Over the last two weeks, there were 1,390 coronavirus cases reported per 100,000 head of population. This puts Belgium in the top spot in Europe in a ranking compiled by the ECDC (European Center of Disease Control). Until now the Czech Republic headed the European ranking. They are now second with 1,379 cases per 100,000. Luxembourg is a distant third with 760 cases followed by Slovenia (732) and the Netherlands (694). As a consequence, the Flemish Government finally decided to further tighten the federal measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in our region. The following measures will enter into force on Friday from 6:00 PM:
We’re bracing for the worst winter ever and are hoping that this is not going to be too little too late. The only silver lining in all of these measures is that I’m still allowed to stroll the streets of Ghent in search for beauty in the ugly and mondain. Stay safe, stay healthy! - Ghent, Belgium
27 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – An enormous amount of virus is circulating in our country. Over 1% of the population, and according to one lead virologist possibly up to 5% are actively shedding virus loads. 757 patients are receiving critical care. Their number is doubling every eight days. Within less than a fortnight 2,000 patients will be in critical care and that is the maximum capacity of ICU units in Belgium. Since it takes ten days for a measure to show result the Flanders needs to act now. The house is on fire and we shouldn’t wait until fire has destroyed half our house before we take clearer action another top virologists said, responding to the pronouncements of the Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon, a populist of the right wing nationalist party, who said last Sunday that as a responsible politicians he must keep a cool head and that he should not start hosing down his house because a fire might occur in the future. Anyhow, criticism from scientists, members of the federal government, governors and the healthcare staff in general made him change his mind. He is now calling for an extra council with his regional ministers later today. Let’s hope that the Flemish government will follow Brussels, the French speaking part of Belgium and our neighboring countries and will finally take the appropriate measures to address the current situation. One thing is sure we’re moving into a long and dark winter – Ghent, Belgium.
26 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – On Saturday 590 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to Belgian hospitals. This is the second highest daily number of hospital admissions since the start of the public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus. The highest number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital in one day so far was on 28 March when 629 patients were admitted. Meanwhile, there is a consensus among most virologists and some political parties that tougher measures are necessary to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2 with some of them even using the word “lockdown”. Despite this outcry and despite that most European countries are returning to tougher restrictions the Flemish government decided not to further tighten the coronavirus measures for the time being. The Flemish Prime Minister, Jan Jambon from the right-wing populist party NVA, asked if he should start spraying his own house with water because it might catch fire. I’m seriously questioning the Flemish government’s cavalier approach to the worst health crisis in a century. What will it take before they decide that the house IS on fire? Anyhow, in my search for beauty in the ugly and mondain I continue to picture Ghent in the gold light of dusk – Portus Ganda, Ghent, Belgium.
25 October 2020: Belgian army is providing emergency assistance to help the healthcare system to cope with the pandemic.
25 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – 585 COVID-19 patients were admitted to Belgian hospitals last Friday. In some Flemish provinces, hospital admissions are heading towards the peak of March-April whilst some Walloon provinces, and Liège specifically, are recording multiples of the figures back then. In light of this alarming situation the Brussels regional government announced yesterday additional measures which go further than those announced by the federal government last week. With Belgium’s hospitals coming under increasing strain the Belgian Army will start providing emergency hospital, extra ambulances and helicopters to help the health services to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic worsens by the day, I continue my search for pictures to add to my collection” beauty in ugly and/or mundane scenery”. On display today is another picture of Portus Ganda, one of the yacht moorings provided by the city of Ghent – Portus Ganda, Ghent, Belgium.
24 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – More than 10,000 people are testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. The number of infections is doubling every 9 days which means that during the coming week we will probably be heading towards 20,000. The number of hospital admissions of patients with COVID-19 has reached almost 500 per day, meaning that the equivalent of the capacity of one small hospital per day is now being taken up by new COVID-19 patients. The additional measures to curb the spread of the virus for sports, culture, youth movements and higher education that were announced yesterday are seen by many virologists as not sufficient and they are in favour of stricter measures in certain areas, especially concerning teleworking and higher education. Although the effects of last week’s measures are not yet visible in the figures, I couldn’t agree more that stricter rules are definitely necessary. If, in a few days, it turns out that the previous measures did not work, we will have lost another few precious days. Whilst the coronavirus is hitting us very hard, I continue my search for beauty in ugly and/or mundane scenery – Visserijvaart, Ghent, Belgium.
23 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – As the number of infections continue to go up, experts and politicians alike are divided on whether or not Belgium should return to lockdown. Some argue that a short but strict lockdown would avoid a much longer semi-lockdown period that will eventually exhaust and frustrate everyone and proclaim that it would have a less sever socio-economic impact. Others argue for stricter measures but only in areas and regions where the biggest difference can be made to break the infection chain. Some also stress that the effects of the measures that went into force on Monday are not visible yet and that as a minimum we should wait for the impact these measures made before implementing additional restrictions.Net-net, we do not know and only can speculate what the government will decide later tonight. Meanwhile, all Belgian hospitals have been told to postpone non-urgent surgeries and to reserve 60% of their intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients. Yesterday, it also became public that Sophie Wilmès, who took over Belgium’s premiership last year and steered the country through the first wave of the pandemic and currently holds the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, was admitted into the ICU. Clearly, young or old, rich or poor we all can get infected. Wondering what the next days will bring I wandered through the streets enjoying the scenery of the city in the beautiful warm sunny glow of the evening – Portus Ganda, Ghent, Belgium
22 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – An average of almost 9,000 people tested positive for the corona virus per day over the past week in Belgium. Also, hospitalisations and deaths continue to rise sharply. There is a consensus that we will not reach the peak number of coronavirus infections until at least a week from now. That peak of people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 will then be followed by a peak in hospitalizations. To ensure that our healthcare system is able to cope with the deteriorating situation some virologists are suggesting a second lockdown as the only option left to stop the country’s rapidly rising Covid-19 infection figures and hospitalisations. In the wake of a new daily coronavirus record in the Netherlands, with 8,764 people testing positive, also some leading Dutch virologists are calling for for a weeks-long total lockdown. All of them are pointing to the successes that have been achieved in Australia, New Zealand and Japan using lockdown methods. Maybe they are right, and we do need to bite the proverbial bullet. On display today is Amsterdam, the city that continues to head the Dutch number of infections with 751 positive tests reported yesterday – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
21 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The number of coronavirus infections in Belgium continues to rise considerably. It is predicted that there will be more than 500 COVID-19 patients on the intensive care wards by the end of the week. Knowing that the maximum capacity of ICU wards in Belgium is 2,000 and that it always takes at least two weeks before measures start to have an impact on the evolution of the curves it goes without saying that we are cutting it very close. There were a couple of additional bummers yesterday… First, our laboratories are no longer able to cope with the increased demand of PCR tests. Therefore, the government announced that people will only get tested when they are showing symptoms. Being tested upon return from a red travel zone or after being in contact with someone who had tested positive, used to be mandatory. Hopefully the strategy of testing as many people as possible will resume as soon as the labs have cleared their backlog. Second, all schools in the Flemish part of Belgium will go into code orange. The aim is that all children can continue to attend school. However, additional measures will become into force and if schools wish they can organise distance learning. The corona crisis is a long ride against the wind – De Haan, Belgium.
20 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic –Yesterday was the day that the tightened measures to stop the rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and deaths in Belgium that were announced before the weekend became effective. Yesterday was also the day that one of Belgium’s lead virologist said that if everything goes according to plan, there could be a vaccine in the spring, with Belgium envisaging the first vaccination campaign between March and June. Knowing that even with the vaccine, not everything will suddenly be fixed and that we will not be able to drop all the measures at once it looks like we are in for one of the most difficult winters ever. The mood of the picture reflects well today’s grim reality – Meetjesland, Belgium
19 October 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – Belgium set a new record last Tuesday with 11,737 people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. In Brussels and Wallonia infection rates are 50% higher than in the Greater Paris Region, which is often considered as a benchmark for the French speaking people in Belgium. The problematic circumstances led the Belgian minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, to say that the situation became the worst and most dangerous in Europe. The coronavirus is hitting us like a tsunami and the only thing we can do is keeping our number of social contacts to an absolute minimum and hoping that the newly implemented measures will bear fruit as soon as possible. On display is a picture from last Saturday of the flea market near the Saint James church (Sint-Jacobs). As of today, all flea markets and Christmas markets will be prohibited in Belgium. It probably will take a while before bargain hunters will be able to visit again this hotspot downtown Ghent – Sint-Jacobs, Ghent, Belgium.
"Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them."
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