40.8 Overall Score (down 6.6 since Aug 1st.)


  • 1.5 Public Health
  • 27.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based
  • 1.5 Public Health
  • 27.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based

While Belgium has not imposed strict lockdown orders, it has implemented strong testing and contract tracing and generous fiscal supports. Still, its case and death rates are high, with the largest shares of deaths concentrated in elderly care facilities, bringing its score down to around the median. It should be noted that Belgium counts suspected, not just confirmed, COVID-19 cases and deaths, whereas other countries tend to only include confirmed.

Pre-COVID Conditions

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 Response

Select a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Sep 1.)

Public Health Directives

Belgium scores near the bottom on public health, with open testing and strong contact tracing countered by relatively weak policy on lockdowns, school closings, and emergency healthcare spending; most notably, Belgium's extremely high case rate pushes its scores down substantially, as most of its policies appear to be implemented well into its crisis, although Belgium is far more liberal in classifying COVID-19 cases than any other country, and may appear to have a much higher relative incidence of the virus than it really does.

  • Stay at home order 0
  • 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 196.6
  • Contact tracing 2

Financial Response

Belgium’s low financial score is due to a relatively low stimulus as a share of GDP, and poor debt-relief opportunities.

  • Financial stimulus as share of GDP 7.7%
  • Income support 2
  • Debt forebearance 1

Fact-Based Communication

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 Sep 1

Belgium has the highest death rate in the Index, which health authorities attribute to COVID’s spread in care homes and a high case rate, though they seem to be capturing most cases through testing.

  • Total deaths 9,894
  • Death rate per 100K 853.7
  • Total cases 85,142
  • Cases per 100K 7,417
  • Percent of positive tests 2.1
  • Change in positivity rates -0.5
Case Trend Line
Daily cases Level 1 Lockdown Level 2 Lockdown
Date Status New Cases/1M
1 May 04 Some businesses reopen 38.15
2 May 18 Shops and schools reopen 25.53
3 Jun 08 Religious institutions reopen 10.44
4 Jul 01 Malls and pools reopen 7.16
5 Aug 24 People allowed to shop in pairs with no time limits 42.58

Differentiating Factors

  • Belgium's COVID-19 Cases Surging: Continuing to be an epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe, Belgium's cases are spreading "intensively," with weekly deaths up 30 percent in August. Read More
  • New corporate tax incentives amid spike in cases: In August, the Belgian parliament passed corporate tax measures to bolster the liquidity of taxpayers and preserve solvency as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. 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
  • 68.7
    Germany 243,599
    Per 1M

    Germany’s pandemic response has been praised around the world for its rapidly implemented contact tracing strategy and science-based leadership, which contribute to its relatively strong performance in the Index.

  • 59.5
    Norway 10,644
    Per 1M

    Norway scores just above the median, pulled down by its weak public health score, countering its semi-strong financial response and reliance on facts and a free press.

  • 53.9
    Sweden 84,379
    Per 1M

    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 and a reliance on facts and accountability with an open press.

Further Reading From Foreign Policy

Be the source of actionable insight.

Select one of the subscription options below to read the full Covid-19 Global Response Index. Unlock even more global intelligence with a subscription to FP Insider.

Already an FP Insider?

Best Value

One-Year All Access
FP Insider


1-year of full access to FP Insider exclusive content and subscription benefits

See benefits  ▾

  • All FP Analytics Special Reports, including the COVID-19 Global Response Index
  • FP Analytics Power Maps
  • Editorial conference calls
  • Unlimited articles on ForeignPolicy.com
  • Digital and print editions of FP’s award-winning magazine
  • Print archive, containing 50 years of FP journalism
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Security and defense news alerts
  • Bonus episodes of FP podcasts
  • FP mobile app

❌ Hide benefits


Limited Access


30-day access to the Index only

Looking for group access? Contact us directly

New Zealand

Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:

Pre-COVID Conditions:

  • 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
  • Debt-forbearance

Public Communications:

  • 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