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“She regains control over Omicron”

The infection figures collected this week by the Sciensano Public Health Institute bear witness to the start of an influenza epidemic in Belgium, virologist Steven Van Gucht said on Thursday. However, it is of low intensity compared to the pre-pandemic years.

According to Sciensano’s weekly report, “the influenza positivity rate is increasing in patients with flu-like symptoms in primary and secondary care.” Yves Van Laethem also stresses that the flu virus “regains control over Omicron”. “In the samples we take, we now see more flu than Omicron. »

The number of people visiting the doctor with flu-like symptoms has steadily increased in recent weeks and the upward trend continues. Sciensano therefore considers that this is the start of an epidemic but with a rather low activity. “It’s the first time in two years,” notes Steven Van Gucht. “This is notably due to the normalization of society with the lifting of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The flu virus is less contagious than Covid-19, so these measures are effective. »

The onset of the flu epidemic usually occurs in January or February and the flu episode can last 6 to 12 weeks depending on its degree of intensity, so it starts much later this year. “I think it will help us, in general the seasonal flu disappears with the Easter holidays”, estimates the virologist. “We have to be careful, because we are in an atypical year, but I am hopeful that the duration of this epidemic will be shorter.” Yves Van Laethem is of the same opinion: the arrival of good weather should reduce its duration.

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General practitioners recorded a weekly average of 445 consultations for flu symptoms per 100,000 inhabitants. These numbers presumably also include Covid cases, as patients are not routinely tested.

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