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The 6 threat levels of the Control Tower at national and provincial level

The COVID-19 Control Tower is a system controlled by Sciensano which closely monitors the situation regarding the number of coronavirus infections in Belgium. On the basis of the resulting figures, the control tower can assign a threat level at national and provincial level.

To determine these threat levels, various parameters analysed by the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) are taken into account.

In first instance, the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days is taken into account. The more infections in an area, the higher the level of alarm:

  • No alarm: no or only a few sporadic infections
  • Pre-alarm phase: 1 to 14 infections
  • Alarm level 1: between 15 and 30
  • Alarm level 2: between 31 and 50
  • Alarm level 3: between 51 and 100
  • Alarm level 4: more than 100.

For the classification, however, the following is also taken into account

  • the trend of the figures (upward or downward);
  • the percentage of positive tests;
  • any possible additional information relating to the nature of local outbreaks.

Each of these alert levels is linked to specific actions and there are also guidelines in terms of measures to be taken.

These actions and measures are best taken and implemented as locally as possible, in consultation with the regional health agencies and with a particular focus on vulnerable groups. Measures can also be phased out on the basis of defined criteria for each threat level. Outbreak teams can be deployed to make an on-site assessment of the situation and to propose or reduce measures.

For example, it can be decided to switch schools from code yellow to orange. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Education to decide this in consultation with the local authorities.

Additional federal measures can also be taken within alarm levels 3 and 4.

An assessment is also made on a regular basis at the level of the municipalities. Based on:

  • the figures;
  • the type of outbreaks;
  • other previous criteria.

If the situation evolves unfavourably for certain municipalities, the local crisis unit may be asked to come together and analyse the situation and, if necessary, take additional measures.