Belgium could run out of beds in intensive care units within two weeks if the number of people in hospitals continues to increase at its current rate, an official says.
The country of 11 million people has Europe's second highest infection rate per capita after the Czech Republic, with new cases doubling every 13 days and hitting a peak of more than 18,000 on October 20 - almost a 10-fold increase from the high of the northern spring wave of the pandemic.
The number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is doubling every eight days - to 757 as of Sunday - with 4827 people in hospitals.
Health Ministry spokesman Yves Van Laethem told a news conference Belgium's maximum capacity of 2000 ICU beds might be reached in two weeks if the increases continue.
"Within four days, by the end of the week, we should pass the milestone of 1000 patients in intensive care," Van Laethem said.
"If the curve doesn't change with our behaviour, we should reach 2000 patients in intensive care in two weeks, our maximum capacity."
In the Brussels region, one of the hardest hit in Europe, all sport and cultural facilities including cinemas, museums and theatres have been forced to close and residents face a longer curfew from Monday.
Belgium had 1288 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past week.
With 10,810 total deaths, it has one of the highest per capita fatality rates in the world.
Australian Associated Press