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- 39.4 Public Health
- 61.2 Financial
- 100 Fact-Based
Belgium has a relative strong score, with its generous income support and strong testing and contact tracing countered by limited public health directives.
Belgium had relatively strong pre-pandemic capacity, boasting accessible, quality healthcare, a healthy population, relatively low levels of inequality, and one of the highest rates of hospital beds per 100,000 people in the Index.
- Debt/GDP ratio 102%
- GDP/capita $50,905
- Gini coefficient (out of 100) 27.4
- Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 3
- Healthcare access score (out of 100) 87.9
- Hospital beds/1,000 People 44.5
Government ResponseSelect a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Mar 15.)
Public Health Directives
Belgium's weak score is due to relatively weak policy on lockdowns, school closings, and emergency healthcare spending. Most notably, Belgium's extremely high case rate pushes its scores down substantially, although Belgium is far more liberal in classifying COVID-19 cases than any other country, and it may appear to have a much higher relative incidence of the virus than it really does.
- Stay at home order 2
- Public gathering restrictions 4
- School closings 1
- Public event cancellations 2
- Testing policy 2
- Emergency healthcare investments/capita $141.51
- Travel restrictions 3
- Tests/1,000 people 878.6
- Contact tracing 2
Belgium’s strong income support helps balance a relatively low stimulus package and poor debt-relief opportunities, but its score has dropped significantly due to other countries' stronger financial packages.
- Financial stimulus as share of GDP 10.8%
- Income support 2
- Debt forebearance 1
Belgium’s government has communicated regularly with the public, avoiding misinformation or exaggeration, and publishing excess death numbers as well as more basic statistics.
- Reliance on science/fact based information 0
- Press freedom 0
COVID-19 Status as of Mar 15
Belgium had extremely high death and case rates, which health authorities attributed, in part, to COVID’s spread in care homes and high case rate, but it has greatly reduced these to be among the best in the Index, resulting in a strong score in this category.
- Total deaths 2,979
- Death rate per 100K 257
- Total cases 809,861
- Cases per 100K 36
- Percent of positive tests 7
- Change in positivity rates -0.3
|1||May 04||Some businesses reopen||31.15|
|2||May 18||Shops and schools reopen||24.07|
|3||Jun 08||Religious institutions reopen||10.53|
|4||Jul 01||Malls and pools reopen||7.08|
|5||Aug 24||People allowed to shop in pairs with no time limits||13.46|
|6||Sep 01||Schools (except universities) reopen, funeral receptions allowed up to 50 people, public events allowed up to 200 (indoors) and 400 (outdoors) people||21.66|
|7||Sep 25||Travel allowed to high-risk regions, although discouraged||190.52|
|8||Oct 19||More limits on public gatherings, night shops close at 10pm, ban on entering public spaces at night, fewer sports spectators||709.86|
|9||Nov 02||New lockdown||546.78|
|10||Dec 01||Non-essential shops allowed to reopen||161.09|
|11||Dec 31||Tightened rules of foreign arrivals (mandate quarantine if traveling from red zone country, PCR testing)||194.48|
|12||Jan 08||Tightened rules on telework and traveling, extending restrictions to March 1st||176.71|
|13||Feb 05||Extended restrictions to April 1st||223.04|
|14||Feb 13||Outdoor animal parks, hairdressing salons allowed to reopen with restrictions; real estate industry allowed to reopen||163.51|
|15||Mar 08||Public outdoor gatherings allowed for up to 10 people||96.38|
- Belgium's vaccination campaign further delayed: A decrease in delivery of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines has slowed rollout and made planning "very difficult" for health officials. Read More
- Belgium slow to distribute Oxford vaccine doses as COVID cases rise: Despite being home to some of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers, Belgium had only provided the first jab to 4.5 percent of the country's adult population, below the EU average. Logistics and distribution issues are commonly cited as issues, with COVID-19 rates still rising as of late February. Read More
- Belgian projections warn not to relax measures too quickly: Belgium has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, and its authorities are delaying relaxation measures amid projections of another spike in cases. Read More
- Belgium's cases continue to surge: Belgium became the seventh most affected country in Europe with COVID-19, as cases reached over 100,000. Read More
- Hotspots in nursing homes: More than half of Belgium's coronavirus fatalities have occurred in nursing homes, partly because elderly people in Belgium are more likely than their peers in the rest of Europe to live in elder-care housing. Read More
- Stockpiling for second wave: In early July, Belgium's Minister of Health announced that the country had prepared itself for a second wave, having stockpiled PPE, medicine, tests and equipment such as ventilators. Read More
- Businesses hard hit despite support: Despite generous financial stimuli in response to the pandemic, financial analysts are predicting that as many as 50,000 Belgian businesses may file for bankruptcy in the coming months. Read More
Compared with Neighboring Countries
Per 1M 10,229
Germany has improved its score a bit in the past few months, after a sharp decline in the fall. Its improvements in contact tracing, which are already likely underestimated in the data, and restrictions on public gatherings, have played important roles in this turnaround, although there has been a recent spike in cases, likely due to both recent restriction relaxations and vaccine rollout issues.
Per 1M 791
Norway scores just below the median, pulled down by its weak public health and financial response scores, despite a strong reliance on facts and a free press.
Per 1M 3,938
Despite being known for a relatively strong public healthcare system, Sweden has been hit hard with cases; the country’s lack of stay-at-home orders and school closures, limited testing, and few gathering restrictions overshadowed its financial support, reliance on facts, and accountability with an open press.
Further Reading From Foreign Policy
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Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:
- Debt to GDP ratio
- Infant mortality rates
- Hospital beds per 1,000 people
- Gini coefficients measuring inequality
- Health access and quality
COVID-19 Public Health Directives:
- Stay-at home orders
- School-closing policy
- Public-gathering restrictions
- Cancellation of public events
- Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
- Emergency healthcare spending per capita
- Travel restrictions
- Contact tracing
COVID-19 Financial Response:
- Stimulus package as a share of GDP
- Income support
- Instances of misinformation by leadership
- Limitations on press freedom, censorship
Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:
- Death rates per 1 million
- Case rates per 1 million