Ladies and gentlemen,

For weeks now, the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in Belgium has been the daily reality for all of us.

It’s the right time, I think, to take stock together with you.


The period we are going through at the moment is unprecedented and overwhelms us, in more ways than one.

To protect you and the people you love – and in fact to protect society as a whole – we have had to take a series of difficult measures that have turned our habits, our social life, and also our economic life upside down.

Please know that I, like you, cherish our freedoms in the depths of my being.

The sacrifices we make are very great, especially for people who are alone.

These sacrifices must not be in vain.

Experts agree that the effect of our efforts can already be seen in the development of the virus in Belgium.

It is clear from various indicators such as the speed at which the virus spreads, or how quickly the number of beds occupied in our hospital wards doubles.

These numbers give us hope.

It has enabled us to avoid overburdening our hospitals and in particular our intensive care units.

Today we are still able, if necessary, to refer patients to other institutions.

Unfortunately we know that after the peak of the infections many more hospital admissions will follow, and unfortunately also deaths.

This information, which will come in the coming weeks, will be an ordeal.

But in spite of everything, we must persevere, more than ever.


Our willpower is put to the test every day, as is our ability to cope. We have to stay strong.

I believe in our ability to be together, to show solidarity when things get tough.

And we can show this too, every day and everyone at their own level.

So we absolutely have to continue to abide by the strict social distancing rules and lockdown, even as the weather improves.

We must do so while respecting the orders of our police services. They are here to protect you, not to cause a nuisance.

They need our support and recognition, just like everyone else who is keeping the country running now.


These people also include healthcare staff, of course. The women and men who guide us with the courage and strength they show every day.

We know you are concerned about their working conditions.

So are we.

Let us avoid oversimplified statements, such as “just do this” or “you only have to do that…”

Belgium is a country with enormous capabilities. The Belgian healthcare system is one of the most developed in the world.

But in the current international context, even countries like ours are facing difficulties.

The shortage of medical supplies illustrates this.

Uncertainty about deliveries has unfortunately become the standard.

The federal government, federated states and health services are fighting every day to find face masks, high-quality medical devices and medication.

It is clear that the situation on the ground is improving, but many of us are still unsatisfied. There are still many obstacles.

Still, the federal government, for example, has already been able to order more than 50 million face masks.

This number does not take into account orders placed by other stakeholders.


As you can see, everyone is working on it.

Our King is also fully involved and supports all our efforts through diplomatic channels.


We are also working to increase our testing capacity by developing new technologies, but also by bringing in more laboratories capable of carrying out the tests.

Whereas we tested an average of four to five thousand people a day last week, this capacity will be up to 10,000 next week. The aim is to be able to multiply that number in the near future.

This is the result of a special collaboration between universities and the laboratories. Belgium can be proud.

Our intention is to provide equipment to and test as many people as possible, with the priority being those who need it most to do their job. We maintain this priority, always in line with the reality on the ground. It is not a choice, but a necessity.

What we cannot import from abroad, we want to make here.

That is why we sat down with the pharmaceutical sector, the textile industry and the medical equipment sector in Belgium to see to what extent we can launch initiatives in that direction.


While people’s health remains our priority, we cannot turn our attention away from the socio-economic consequences of the corona crisis. We will feel these consequences long after the situation has returned to normal.

Very quickly, we took a series of measures to guarantee an income for employees and the self-employed through economic unemployment and bridging rights.

Companies are also being supported through various mechanisms. Supporting businesses NOW means securing the jobs of tomorrow. We will need them.


Further measures are in the pipeline, particularly in support of the health sector.

As you can see, many decisions have also been taken in the field of mobility, asylum and support for the most vulnerable people. These decisions were taken by the federal government as a team, in collaboration with parliaments and the social partners.

But not just by the federal government.

Measures have also been proposed by the Regions and Communities.

The municipalities and their CPASs also support the most vulnerable among us every day.

So, we are active in all areas.

The whole country is participating in the fight against corona.

A lot of people are asking me when this will all be over. When will we be able to take up daily life again, and when we will be able to go to school or to work normally again. Because we all long to return to life as normal.

At the last meeting of the National Security Council, we decided that the current containment measures will apply until 19 April.

This period may – as you know – be extended until 3 May, after evaluation. But we will keep evaluating week after week.

One day, this ordeal will be behind us. At the moment, no one can say exactly when that will be. But we are preparing for it.

More generally, we need to prepare our country for the transition, as the return to normality will happen gradually.

To prepare for this, we will sit down with a group of leading experts from the scientific, economic and social communities.

We have a long process of reconstruction ahead of us. It is obvious that there will be a before and after corona. Whether it’s about the way we treat each other, or more generally, about the way our society functions.

We must come out of this ordeal stronger.


Many of you have written to me directly, or published an open letter.

To ask questions, to express concern or sometimes anger.

But many of you are also very encouraging and positive.

In all those messages, whatever they are, I feel your determination and your strength. I also see a lot of tenderness. There is much concern for others as well.

These are driving forces for us, for you and for the whole of Belgium.


Thank you for that.

Let’s move on together.

Take good care of yourself and, especially, others.