Coronavirus: Why is Belgium a Europe hotspot for COVID-19 deaths?

This week Belgium recorded the highest death rate from COVID-19 cases in Europe.

In Flanders – the region worst hit by the virus – many are asking “why is it so bad here?”

A large elderly population? Some densely populated cities? (although you wouldn’t know that during the lockdown).

Was it the fact many from here went skiing in Italy at the start of the outbreak and picked up the virus. Or were mistakes made from the start?

That is certainly a question many have been asking in the city of Sint-Truiden where we met the mayor, Veerle Heeren.

She has faced questions and criticism after allowing a large carnival to go ahead at the end of February.

Thousands attended and doctors told us the virus will have been allowed to spread.

But the mayor insists no one could have known what was to come back then.

She said: “Nobody spoke about corona at that time.

“You know, it started with us on 9 March, the beginning of March.

“And the first measures from our national government were taken on 13 March.”

The mayor, who has been applauded for her handling of the crisis since, knows what it is to face the nightmare of COVID-19.

Her husband spent weeks in a coma with the virus and remains in hospital.

She says it has been tough personally but she felt the need to keep on working, to help the community.

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