Belgium Is The World's Worst Affected Country When It Comes To The Coronavirus Mortality Rate.

- May 07, 2020-

Belgium is the world's worst affected country when it comes to the coronavirus mortality rate.

That rate, unlike the total number of fatalities, is a measure of the number of deaths in relation to the size of population.

President Donald Trump pointed to a graph recently, displaying Belgium at the top and the US in seventh place, as a result of the number of deaths relative to population size.

Image copyrightREUTERSHe was suggesting the US was handling the pandemic more effectively.

Belgium has a population of 11.5 million. That means 66 people in every 100,000 have died from Covid-19. In the US, with a population of around 330 million, it's 19 in every 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

But those figures are "faulty comparisons" that have been "abused", argues Prof Steven Van Gucht, a Belgian virologist and government spokesman.

"That's the difference between public health science and political motivation," he explains. "That's purely inspired by showing how good you are doing, and it's wrong. We are actually reporting in a more correct way."

What's different about Belgium?

Belgian officials say they are counting in a way that no other country in the world is currently doing: counting deaths in hospitals and care homes, but including deaths in care homes that are suspected, not confirmed, as Covid-19 cases.

According to Belgium's latest official figures, out of 7,703 deaths, 53% have been in care homes.

Some 16% of deaths in care homes were tested positive for coronavirus. The rest are suspected.

That means more than 3,500 deaths have been counted as caused by Covid-19, but not confirmed.

How do they work it out?

"It's based on the assessment of the medical doctor, usually taking into account whether the coronavirus is present in the same care home," says Prof Van Gucht.

"For example: if you have one or two confirmed cases, then the week after you have 10 deaths in the same home based on similar symptoms."

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They are not tested in the lab, but it's reasonable to assume that these are