It's not fun to admit it, but it has to be said: Belgium sucks at any continuous plan regarding covid.
Oh, we've flattened the curve, alright. Mid march we went into lockdown and it...mostly worked. That first wave came and went. April was the peak in terms of hospitalized patients, May showed a slowing down until, say, september. Then it began to rise again. Nowadays, the news shows the following image on a daily basis:
It ain't good. It ain't good AT ALL!
However, it's not as if the virus was ever really gone. And we don't have leaders that openly defy the impact.
What we do have, however, is spread politics. It took a year and a half, but we finally managed to get a full on federal government. Oh yeah...so no more backup measures and emergency drafts, right? Well...no. Almost the contrary.
I have a few writings on how politics work in Belgium. Mostly how we've got a federal government for the entire country, a Flemish government for those speaking Dutch, Wallonian government for Frenchies and a Brussels one because it considers itself both...or neither.
Back in March, we were so surprised that Sophie Wilmes didn't so much staged a coup as she was brought forth to deal with this sudden mess ("What's this mess? Hey...you! You're in charge now!!!"). Anyone who either doubted her actions or the virologists (a certain 'Marc Van Ranst, mostly) was just about boo-ed off the television.
Things are different now. Since we've got the new government (with Alexander De Croo as prime minister and Frank Vandenbroucke as minister of health matters), we got new prevention measurements. And some more a couple days later, even though it takes a few weeks for changes take effect.
I should stress that even though we're not in lockdown, things don't differ that much. Working from home is nearly obligated (when possible) and most social/sports events are delayed/canceled/forbidden. The schools are the most notable exception, and that might change as well (autumn break is two weeks instead of one, now).
But to get back at politics: one of the major parties - N-VA - is openly trying to break up Belgium(1). So it comes at no surprise that they play it "the Trump way". They aren't in the federal government, but are leading the Flemish one. And they reason that because Wallonia is hit harder in this second wave, Flanders shouldn't follow the same strict regulations.
The problem is that this sort of reasoning resonates with people. "Why should we take precaution X when it's worse in Wallonia?". It's just madness. Sure, Brussels and Wallonia are hit harder, BUT FLANDERS IS RIGHT BEHIND THEM!!! Belgium's no fucking island. The netherland had a more lacking approach and have conceded to stricter regulations. France just went into lockdown (again). But guys like Jan Jambon (N-VA, obviously) somehow compared the measurements with "extinguishing your house in advance, in case your house might catch fire later".
I don't usually hate people and try to follow their reasoning, but that really pissed me off! It's one thing to vie some retarded political goal(2), but another to openly deny actions "because someone else has worse symptoms".
*sigh* It's not that I don't get it: we've got plenty of people like Boesy as well: men and women being fucking tired of staying at home or seeing their free time occupations canceled or neutered(3). Politicians know that they can only push people as far as their respect goes. Which...really isn't far, to be honest. I've noticed a trend that the media is scheduling more medical related programs lately. This helps, but still people make their own rules rather than follow others.
...which is pretty hard NOT to do, because some of these rules are seeming contradictions: you can invite 4 people at your family, but are only one "snuggle contact" outside your personal family (others should stay distant). But can I have two semi-snuggle contacts instead? Or three, if one of those is of the same bubble? (ey...sorry, but my parents and parents-in-law want to see our daughter. And I'm still renovating with my father-in-law). I can technically help a friend setting up his fence when using social distancing rules, but in practice it's impossible to set up a 40 kg heavy pole of 2.5 meters perfectly straight without coming within 1.5m distance (read: the damn thing is simply too heavy to properly lift, let alone manoeuver alone).
I'm no saint, but I at least try. The problem is that at least half the country - and probably closer to 100% - at least uses these sorts of excuses. Oh, we barely have people ignoring masks, I'll give you that. But face masks are about the most basic protection; it ain't bulletproof!
During the first wave, the girlfriend of my best friend was about the only person I'd know who had had covid, and that wasn't too surprising considering she's a nurse. Okay, and there was someone of my family who "needed a test", and one vague colleague turned out to have had it. That was it.
This time, it's my closest colleague's sister and a fairly close colleague who got it, and my sister-in-law needed a test (luckily it was negative, or we'd had to go in quarantine). So it's coming closer. Worse: my girlfriend works in a major hospital, and she's on high alert for the near future. She joined that work shortly after the first wave, but is now part of the team that has to prepare for what's coming. Insofar as it's not already there: she's seen people on oxygen support and seen the lines at the triage center. Two of her colleagues have gotten the infection, and though I don't dare say it, I'm fearful she'll get it too (and as such, myself...and depending on which day one or both of our parents as well).
Meanwhile, my job is...well...not "on the line" at the moment, but I'm not sure how long it'll be. For november and december our team will each have two additional unemployed days, and I'm afraid that this is still on the positive hope that things will somewhat pick up.
Yeah...I know: this whole writing's not going anywhere. I just felt like writing down my feelings.
Best of luck to you, wherever you are.
EDIT: obligatory update. There was a press conference today. Seems like we'll go into full lockdown again as of coming monday. The regulations might not be 100% the same as the first time, but at this time I'm having trouble distinguishing.
It's a good move, but if my blog entry was any indication, my reaction is a "well...better late than never. " It shouldn't be that the hospitals are going critical before we as a society react properly. Especially not when it's the second time this happens.
(1): the question "what about Brussels?" is still unanswered, leaving them in a sort of deadlock.
(2): Flanders will be at best temporarily better off, and most likely stay around the same. But with no scapegoat left, I'm sure N-VA will just try to blame everything on other parts of what remains of Flanders
(3): the most recent regulations killed off my karate class. But just before that we were allowed to practice, provided we avoided personal contact(4), didn't use the change rooms, ventilated the room properly, stayed on our assigned space in the dojo, limited ourselves to ten people maximum, disinfected our hands and didn't practice "kijai"...say "loudly screaming to boost your confidence". Yeah...one can argue that it's for our own benefit and I agree with it, but I'm pauzing the hobby for the time being.
(4): believe it or not, but karate is broken up into three roughly equal parts: technique, kata practice and kumite. Only the last part - contact training - involves touching someone
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