BRUSSELS

The number of COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units rose 52% compared to last week, according to the latest data released by Belgium’s Public Health Institute Sciensano on Monday.

The number of new infections on July 17-23 grew 70% compared to the previous weeks.

A total of 1,952 new infections were diagnosed in a week’s time, bringing the daily tally to an average of 279, while between early June and mid-July, Belgium was able to keep the daily number of cases at an average of 100.

Within the same week of July 17-23, 53% more people were hospitalized compared to a week before, whereas 52% more patients were admitted to the intensive care units.

Currently, 211 COVID-19 patients are in hospitals, with 47 of them being cured at ICUs.

Due to the significant rise in coronavirus cases, the National Security Council – a board composed of certain members of the federal government – announced on Monday further restrictions on public life.

From now on, households need to reduce their social bubble – the people they frequently visit – from 15 to five.

Only 10 people can participate at wedding receptions and other private family events.

Till the end of August, public outdoor events need to downsize to 200 people from 400, while the number has been reduced to 100 from 200 for indoor happenings.

“Our aim is to avoid full lockdown,” Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes explained, calling the infection numbers “worrying”.

The announcement completes the federal government’s decisions made on Thursday which extended the obligation of wearing face masks to further public spaces and imposed a registry system for cafes and bars to be able to trace infections.

In Belgium, 66,026 people have been infected with COVID-19 since the outbreak, while 9,821 patients lost their lives.

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 16.26 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with nearly 650,000 deaths, and over 9.43 million recovered.

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