By Kate Abnett*
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium’s death toll from coronavirus infections, one of the highest per capita in the world, has breached the 20,000 mark, according to official data published on Sunday.
The country, home to the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, has played down comparisons that show it to be one of the world’s worst hit by the pandemic, but virologists point to some missteps and systemic problems. A country divided by language, Belgium gives regions substantial autonomy and has nine health ministers.
Public health institute Sciensano said 20,038 people have died in Belgium, according to the official count as of Sunday. An average of 58 people in Belgium died from COVID-19 each day in the seven days to Jan. 6, a decrease of 15% from the previous seven-day period.