The Prime Minister of Belgium seeks to find a final solution to the virus problem without losses affecting the strength of the Belgian economy in the coming years

We often get criticism - oh, you're making Belgium look bad - we think it's the opposite," said Dr Steven Van Gucht, head of the viral disease division at the Sciensano public health institute. "If you want to compare our numbers with a lot of other countries', you basically have to cut them in half."

About 95 per cent of Covid-19 deaths in elderly care homes have not been diagnosed, yet Belgium decided to register them based on the symptoms shown and who the people had been in contact with. The goal is to get a clearer picture of the pandemic and better target hot spots.

At each briefing, Belgian officials detail the day's statistics, drawing attention to those who die outside of hospitals - typically around half the total.

The impact of the disease on vulnerable residents of elderly care homes is a growing issue. While Europe knew it would need more ventilators and intensive care capacity once the virus spread beyond China, the impact on nursing homes was unexpected, said Dr Agoritsa Baka, a senior expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.