Trouble in Belgium

I was looking at Our World in Data’s chart on total COVID-19 deaths per million, by nation, and at first I thought the UK was highest with 602. By contrast, the U.S. has 338, Brazil has 181, and New Zealand has 5. But then someone pointed out that Belgium, a country of 12 million people, has 830 deaths per million. So what’s going on there? A May 17 Washington Post article points out that other countries may be undercounting their deaths. Moreover: “One explanation, he [health official Steven Van Gucht] said, might be Belgium’s relative population density in comparison to its neighbors: the Brussels airport, an international transportation hub, might have helped seed the disease in the crowded capital region. And many Belgians were on skiing vacations in northern Italy during national school vacations in late February.” And: “Belgium’s nursing homes account for more than half of its deaths, partly because older Belgians are more likely than their counterparts in other European countries to live in elder-care housing.”

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