Belgium's former PM has been taken into intensive care

Belgian foreign minister Sophie Wilmes, 45, is in intensive care with coronavirus after leading the country through the first six month of the pandemic as PM

  • Sophie Wilmes, who was PM until 3 weeks ago, has been taken to intensive care 
  • She announced on Saturday that she had tested positive for coronavirus
  • Wilmes led the country through six months of the pandemic, then switched jobs after her minority administration was replaced by a majority coalition

Belgium’s foreign minister and former premier Sophie Wilmes has been taken into intensive care suffering from COVID-19, her office said today.  

The 45-year-old, who was prime minister until three weeks ago, is conscious and her condition stable, her spokesman said.

Wilmes said on Saturday she had tested positive and that she had probably caught the virus from a relative rather than at work.  

Wilmes led the country through the first six months of the pandemic, then switched jobs after her minority administration was replaced by a majority coalition this month. 

Newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Sophie Wilmes is seen during the handover ceremony at the ministry in Brussels, on October 1, 2020

Alexander De Croo, who took over as prime minister at the start of October, said on Twitter he hoped she would recover swiftly.

‘No one is immune to this virus. All together, we will defeat COVID-19,’ he wrote. 

Infections and hospital admissions are continuing to rise in Belgium, which has among the world’s highest rate of fatalities per capita from COVID-19.  

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke warned on Sunday of a possible ‘tsunami’ ahead, with the country starting to lose control of the virus.

Belgium is second only to the Czech Republic in Europe in terms of infections per capita in the past two weeks.

The country of 11 million people reported 9,693 new infections per day in the week to Oct. 18, a 75 per cent increase from the week before.  

Medical staff work in the intensive care ward for COVID-19 patients at the CHR Citadelle hospital in Liege, Belgium yesterday 

An average of 319 people were admitted to hospital every day. So far, 10,539 people have died.

The government is set to meet on Friday to discuss the pandemic.

Leading virologist Marc Van Ranst said on Thursday the country needed to go into a short, full lockdown to avoid a long partial lockdown that would exhaust everyone and hit the economy

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