On July 27, Belgium made worldwide headlines. The governor of Antwerp, Cathy Berx, announced a lockdown “light” for the province, which included a curfew for Antwerp city between 11 pm and 6 am.
Three weeks earlier, Daniel Andrews, prime minister of the state of Victoria, Australia, reinstated a lockdown for 5 million people in Melbourne and other parts of the state. Between July 1 and July 7, Victoria had counted 593 new infections, bringing the total to 2824. Or put differently: 8.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. “These are unsustainably high numbers of new cases,” Mr Andrews said.
Belgium considers 20 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants as the critical value. On July 29, 128 of Belgium’s 581 municipalities had passed this threshold. Mrs. Berx’s announcement came on the day Antwerp had totaled 711 new infections in 7 days, equivalent to 135 per 100,000 inhabitants. In other words: 15 times higher than Victoria on July 7.
Despite the lockdown measures, the number of infections has still more than tripled in Victoria over the past three weeks. A total of 9304 cases was recorded on July 29. Antwerp’s decision, generally hailed as courageous, has not come a day too soon.
Data on COVID-19 cases Belgium, per municipality: Sciensano
Data on COVID-19 cases Victoria: Victoria State Government, Health and Human Services