Two new cases with the British alternative in Belgium

KU Leuven detected two additional cases of the British variant in our country. Both people returned from the UK.

The Rega Institute (KU Leuven) confirmed that two new cases of Coronavirus with the British variant have appeared in our country. It involved two people who tested positive for the virus the week before Christmas. Samples were re-examined on Friday to map the genome sequences. So it was shown to be related to infection with the British variant.

These are two separate cases, both cases are not related. The two people returned from the United Kingdom.

According to researcher Pete Mays from the Riga Institute, there are no indications that the two cases have led to more infections in our country, because quarantine is under strict control. “Nobody is injured in their bubble.”

Stephen van Gucht, a Sciensano virologist, thinks more cases will emerge. “I expect we will discover many more. People returned from the UK and some were injured. If we did genome sequencing of their samples, we’d likely find the British variant. After all, it is the predominant strain of virus in the United Kingdom.

Since January 2, travelers entering Belgium must be tested upon arrival. This test checks if someone has the virus. Additional testing can reveal the type of virus involved.

Greater alertness

In our country, there is great vigilance for the British variant. After all, it is half contagious, according to two British studies. This means that the risk of an outbreak is greater and that more stringent measures are needed to avoid another wave of infections.

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The British variant, referred to as B 1.1.7, is also gaining traction in Denmark. These Danish data seem to confirm the observation that the new variant is clearly more contagious.

The British variant is already found in many countries. Over the past month, the new look has appeared in the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

A matter of time

Earlier in November, at least three, and possibly four, cases appeared in our country. As far as is known, these have not led to further outbreaks. All the cases found so far are patients with a travel history.

There have already been local outbreaks in Denmark and the Netherlands. The disease broke out in the Netherlands in several schools.

The question is how long Belgium will be able to avoid an outbreak. “It is only a matter of time before the British alternative is traded here,” says Bruno Verhasselt, division head at UZ Gent’s medical microbiology lab. But the question is when, and whether, will it spread strongly.

Megan Vasquez

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