Between December 28 and January 11, many employees may have taken time off, but the coronavirus does not take public holidays into account. A report published on the GEMS Consulting Group website lists the 14-day occurrence. This is the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. For the working population, that number was 2,933, while the infection rate for the rest of the Belgians was 1,574.
The difference can be partially explained by the fact that some important activities of non-working people have ceased in the past two weeks. Underage students were on Christmas holidays, and the period of students was limited.
Occupational medicine professor Lode Godderis (KU Leuven) notes that the report clearly shows a “Christmas effect.” In sectors revolving around entertainment, a strong increase in infection rates has been recorded. The incidence in the aviation sector (5,860 cases) was nearly twice that of the rest of the working population. A higher percentage is also found in hotels and bars than in the rest of society, as well as in the sports, culture and retail sector.
“That in and of itself shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Godderis says. “If there is more economic activity in a sector, we can also expect infection rates to rise.” He stresses that the numbers do not show exactly where someone was injured. This often happens in secret.
What is remarkable about the report is that many people have been infected in various sectors in which it is possible to work remotely. Architects, accountants, and people working in the financial sectors, for example, were more likely to get infected in the past two weeks than other employees. “So it remains important to focus on working remotely. Otherwise, there is a risk of further employee loss and companies may stop working or find it difficult to carry out their activities,” says Goodris.
The professor sees a more positive development in the education and care sector. These industries are usually hit hard at the start of a wave, but in recent weeks their incidence has been similar to the average for the rest of the working population. For the healthcare sector, Godris suspects this is indicative of the success of the booster campaign.
According to the professor, the steep curve will continue for the next 2-3 weeks. “I don’t think it is possible to stop this increase. In the period after that, there may be a decrease, because a lot of people will be in isolation.”
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