COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday 3 April 2020.
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced that: “a high-level group will be formed to prepare for gradual ‘deconfinement’ with a "gradual" reopening of public life over several months. "We have to start working on a scenario now," she said. "This committee will be chaired by a person from the scientific world, because health will always come first."
Belgium is making EUR 5 million available for the development of a vaccine against the corona virus, said Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo.
Virologist Steven Van Gucht referred to the high demand for mouth masks: "Our advice remains the same: keep your distance, wash your hands with soap and water. Masks add little to that. They do make sense for people who cannot keep a distance, and I refer to our caregivers.”
Brussels Iris network hospitals have reached 90% of its capacity for intensive care.
Brussels Airlines needs a substantial cash injection. The company originally requested EUR 200 million at the start of the corona crisis, but that has been overtaken by events being based on the assumption that the crisis would end in April and that air traffic would resume swiftly. A group of experts tasked with rescuing large Belgian companies as a result of the corona crisis is urgently considering Brussels Airlines. Renationalisation of the airline is also on the table.
Buses, trains and trams are virtually empty in Belgium: on the railways barely 5% of seats are occupied. The number of travellers on De Lijn has also plummeted with an occupancy rate of about 10%. The Brussels STIB transport company sees slightly more travellers on its buses, trams and metros with an occupancy rate of about 15%.
Six out of ten French-speaking entrepreneurs have completely ceased their activities following the containment measures, according to the quarterly barometer of the Union of the middle classes (UCM) carried out at the end of March among 3,600 freelancers and SME managers.
And finally, some lighter news, 60 Belgian artists have (re)covered “We Are the World” in tribute to nursing and medical staff.
Federal Government COVID-19 information
The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)