17 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The rise in the number of deaths being linked to coronavirus is slowing down. Also, there has been a further fall in the number of people being treated for the coronavirus in hospital. On average during the past week 463 patients were hospitalized a day. That figure is down by a fifth on the week. And there was more good news yesterday. Moderna, a US pharma company, announced that the analysis of interim results of their phase 3 trial show that its Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in reducing the risk of contracting the disease. We’ve now two vaccines at the eve of being approved by the both the FDA and the EMA. In the wake of this news the government decided that the vaccines will be available in Belgium free of charge but that nobody will be obliged to get a corona vaccine jab. Still, they are targeting seventy percent of the population to be inoculated. A taskforce, including scientists and government representatives, crisis managers but also representatives of professional organizations and technical working group, will be set up to decide on the roll out of the vaccination campaign. Net-net, we’re heading for the right direction and hopefully the empty streets and squares will be filled with people again at the beginning of next year… Ghent, Belgium.
16 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – I find it hard to find beacons of light that might lighten up my day. Yes, the corona statistics continue to improve in Belgium, but the number of fatalities is still on the rise. The measures that were implemented to curb the further spread of the virus are paying off, but some people find it increasingly hard to comply to the rules and it puts a strain on the relationship between the police and some youngsters. Yesterday in Brussels 3 officers were injured when they were attacked during a corona check. Meanwhile, in the US the virus is surging, breaking infection records across the country. Whilst more and more people are wondering if Trump is attempting a coup or is just throwing another tantrum the country is surpassing 11 million infections as of yesterday and is facing the most dangerous public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. For me, as indeed for many in these difficult days, walking and capturing my hometown as it unfolds in front of my eyes continues to be a lifeline to sanity. On display today is the “Book Tower”. The tower is part of the Ghent University Library and houses more 3 million books – Boekentoren, Ghent, Belgium.
15 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – Over the last week on average 6,213 per day people tested positive for the coronavirus. Also, fewer people had to go to hospital to receive treatment for coronavirus infections: the daily average for the past week was calculated at 486, which is about a quarter down on the week. The number of people that are treated on the ICU remains more or less stable. Unfortunately, the number of fatalities is still on the rise. It has now reached 201 per day in the past week, lifting the total number of Covid deaths in Belgium to more than 14,000. Yesterday’s encouraging news was that The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that it plans to give its opinion in favour of a first vaccine against the new coronavirus by the end of the year, with a view to distribution from January. However, it doesn’t mean we will be out of the woods as of then. The vaccine will be available to only a very small slice of Europeans at first, a complex distribution strategy needs to be put in place and the results of the first vaccination campaign will only be seen months later. Net-net, we still have a long way to go before we can return to our normal lives. I hope that today’s beautiful autumn colors make it all a bit more palatable – Citadelpark, Ghent, Belgium.
14 November 2020: Belgium’s lockdown will last at least 2 more weeks and achieving herd immunity against the coronavirus the natural way is not an option
14 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The number of new hospital admissions, as well as the total number of patients admitted, continues to decrease slightly, however, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has been on a plateau since last week.Therefore, the Belgian government decided yesterday that, despite the slight improvements, the current lockdown measures will stay in place for at least two more weeks. According to Belgian scientists about 10% to 20% of the Belgian population will have antibodies against the coronavirus after this second wave of infections. That is still very far from the 60% to 70% immunity rate we would like to reach to ensure sufficient immunity in the country. Hence, the pursuit of herd immunity through natural infections, i.e. without a vaccine, seems to be a wrong idea. For a deadly virus in a country as Belgium, where almost a third of the population belongs to a risk group, it is a strategy that is way too dangerous. It would take an inhuman toll on human lives. Statisticians estimated that the death toll it would take to achieve sufficient immunity is 60,000 or more. Hence, the only option we have left is to limit our contacts, and to follow the measures until we can create sufficient immunity with the help of a vaccine.Healthcare professionals are warning that any major relaxation prior to the holidays could be disastrous for the health sector and may result in a Christmas rush into the ICU. It looks like I’m going to have to continue my search for interesting and/or beautiful scenes in my hometown for a while. On display today is another picture of the Belfry Tower – Ghent, Belgium.
13 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The Belgium government will meet later today to take stock of the situation and assess the first results of the latest measures against the coronavirus. Even though the virus’ spread is slowing down, and the figures for infections and hospitalisations are “encouraging,” no relaxations of the rules are excepted. Over the past two weeks there were still 1,332.3 confirmed infections per day per 100,000 inhabitants. A couple of weeks ago Belgium has been hitting the international press with some of the highest cumulative cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe and a record number of hospital admissions. This morning I read in the newspaper that we are now fascinating the world with our “Cuddle Contacts”. International media have commented on this interesting part of our lockdown strategy. The British Daily Telegraph explained to its readers that a “Cuddle Contact” was somebody from outside your household, who in the interests of general sanity, that you are allowed to be in contact with despite corona and the many, many restrictions and that can be admitted to your home without the need to socially distance. The Sun asked its readers who they would designate as their “Cuddle Contact” if Boris Johnson would hit on the idea. The North American news outlet Vice headlined “Everybody get a Cuddle Buddy in Belgium’s new Lockdown”. The Italian and yes, even the Chinese press had similar articles… The Belgian complex state structure and its polarized political landscape may not be winning any beauty contest anytime soon for its initial approach to the coronavirus pandemic but as a minimum the Belgium government cares about the mental wellness of its population… To avoid that I’m becoming too cynical I will continue my search for beauty in the empty streets of the paradoxical and complex country I’m in a love-hate relationship with – Ghent, Belgium.
12 November 2020: Belgium remembers the millions of lives that were lost in The Great War in Corona-style.
12 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid continues to fall. The number of new infections is also decreasing. That said, over 7,000 patients with Covid are still in hospital and the daily death toll continues to rise. Whilst the situation is still very worrying, we seem to have passed the peak of new cases of COVID-19 in Belgium and most of the other European countries. Yesterday was Armistice Day in Belgium; 11 November marks the effective end of World War I. The ceremonies to honor the millions that fell during The Great War were conducted in corona-style. In Ypres the ceremony was cut down to ten minutes and only the core elements were retained. Only a couple of dozen witnessed the ceremony from afar with only six people permitted to stand under the Menin Gate, the monument to commemorate British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave. Also, the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels was more sober than usual. King Philippe lit the eternal flame and the Last Post bugle call resounded but there was no band or large crowd present at the event. On display is a picture I took at the Tyne Cot Memorial. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defense and liberation of Belgium during The Great War. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war - Ypres in Belgium.
11 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The Belgian figures for infections and hospitalisations are encouraging. Whilst the pressure on the ICU units increased slightly - 1,474 Covid patients are receiving critical care - the number of infections and hospital admissions continues to go down. This in addition with the news that Pfizer and BioNTech are developing a vaccine that in tests is proving to protect 90% of those inoculated has raised hopes of a speedy return to the old normal. Experts, however, are warning that still a lot needs to happen before we can consider a relaxation of the lockdown measures. The vaccine still needs to be approved and it’s going to take time before enough people are vaccinated to impact the spread of the virus. Pfizer will need a whole year to meet their goal of 1.3 million doses. As you need two doses per person you can inoculate 650 million people with this first batch. The world population is ten times that. Hence, more will be needed than this sole vaccine before we can go back to our normal lives. Everybody seems to be in agreement that after the first wave we reopened society a bit too enthusiastically and the authorities, rightfully,intend to be stricter this time round. The Corona measures will be re-examined on 1 December, but the government is refusing to be drawn on relaxations ahead of Christmas. “First we need to reach a safe port. Circulation of the virus must be limited as much as possible ahead of relaxations” Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke stated. Net-net, hoping for traditional Xmas is a fantasy just like the mural of Cee Pil, an artist renowned for his graffiti art and groundbreaking murals – Oude Dokken, Ghent, Belgium.
10 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The corona restrictions are beginning to pay off, with the number of hospitalisations dropping and the number of new infections going down strongly. Last week, 597 patients had to be taken to hospital each day on average, coming from 656 the week before. Yesterday's figure came in at 400, while 294 patients were allowed to return home again. The best news we’ve heard in a long time came from Pfizer announcing yesterday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19. A first analysis of the data found that the vaccine that they developed together with the German pharma company BioNTech was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. Other interesting reading was the outcome of a study of 186 coronavirus patients at a Belgian hospital revealing that a lack of sufficient vitamin D on admission can be linked to increased risk of severity and death from a Covid-19 infection. I knew that Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium and magnesium but did not know that it strengthens and regulates the immune system. Fully loaded with vitamins and supplements I continue my search for eye-catching scenes in my hometown. On display today is the old post office on the Korenmarkt – Korenmarkt, Ghent, Belgium.
9 November 2020: The spread of the virus continues to slow in Belgium and Trump refuses to accept the election result
9 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – As the number of new Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital continues to decrease slowly, the pressure on intensive care units continues to climb, and the number of deaths is still rising sharply. The reproduction rate now stands at 0.94, down from 0.99 yesterday. With an incidence rate of 1,333 coronavirus cases Belgium is no longer the worst European country but we are still coloring dark red on the map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). As a reference, Finland with 53 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants, is at the very bottom of the list. Meanwhile, in the US some republicans and Trump aids are coming to grips with the reality of a loss whilst others are encouraging him to battle the election result until the bitter end. No matter how hard Joe Biden is trying to reunite the country I’m afraid it’s going to be a shitshow until Trump is out of the office. The mural I found at the old cement factory reflects well the two faces the US will be confronted with in the months to come – Dok Noord, Ghent, Belgium.
8 November 2020: There is hope – The reproduction number in Belgium dropped under 1 and Joe Biden is set to become the next president of the US
8 November 2020: Update on The Corona Pandemic – The average number of people testing positive per day over the past week has fallen with a quarter. Belgium also reported a slight fall in the total number of patients being hospitalized with the virus, however, the pressure on intensive care units continues to rise and the number of deaths has gone up. The reproduction number came down to 0.99. There was also other good news. Last evening the US media declared Joe Biden as next president. What a week! This was a close election, far closer than it should have been, and there is simply no excuse for that. If we were looking at a foreign country with America’s level of political dysfunction, we would probably consider it on the edge of becoming a failed state. Anyway, let’s hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that the US slowly but surely will recover from the deepest political crisis it has seen in decades. On display today is a panoramic shot of the Graslei, one of the most beautiful spots in the center of the city – Graslei, 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."
I just like to take pictures, I just push the button. I never worked in the darkroom, I never studied photography or journalism; I’m just a passionate photographer.
"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure, without a loss of enthusiasm”
Sir Winston Churchill
Therefore, I Am A Believer Of "All Critiques Are Valid". Thank You!