Belgium heatwave death toll peaks at 1,300
1 July 2004, BRUSSELS - Close to 1,300 people were killed by the scorching heatwave that hit Belgium between July and September in 2003, according to the latstest figures.
1 July 2004
BRUSSELS - Close to 1,300 people were killed by the scorching heatwave that hit Belgium between July and September in 2003, according to the latstest figures.
The statistics from the Institute of Science and Public Health (ISSP) were announced on Wednesday by Federal Minister for Health and Social Affairs Rudy Demotte.
Government officials indicated that the figures represented a rise in initial estimates following the inclusion of further information from a national register of citizens.
The final statistics reveal that between 1,258 and 1,297 more people died than the normal death rate for the period between July and September.
This rise in mortality mainly affected citizens over the age of 65, with the number of deaths in this age group 20 percent higher than normal.
During the months of July and August, 884 more people died than on average, with 389 of these deaths occurring in Flanders.
The upsurge in deaths during the summer months has been widely attributed to the scorching temperatures.
Despite the high death rate, Belgium was less afected than France where the estimated number of bdeaths caused by the heatwave areached 15,000.
But the comparison must also take into account the fact that France, in particular, was hit by abnormally intense heat and also the distances involved in keeping close touch with relatives in other towns and villages.
Announcing the figures, Minister Demotte presented the outline of a four-phase plan to help the population face any extreme temperatures that may reoccur this summer.
The first phase, in effect from 1 June to 30 September, centres round an information campaign and the identification of risk groups.
The second phase would kick into action if the average daily and nightly temperature rose above 23 degrees for three consecutive days.
In this case a health monitoring unit would come into play, evaluating the situation regarding hospitals.
Thirdly, if the heatwave was sustained, an official health crisis would be declared, prompting the ministry to install a crisis manager and hospitals would be put on alert.
During the final phase, 750,000 information brochures would be distributed through pharmacies, insurance agencies and local communes.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news