COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday, 17 April 2020.
Sciensano update of 17 April. 1,329 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 143 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 36,138 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 3,611 (10%) cases located in Brussels.
In the past 24 hours, 320 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 399 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 16, a total of 12,562 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 7,961 people have left.
313 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 67 (21%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 5,163 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 815 (16%) were in Brussels. Also see news note below re a possible deaths data revision.
Read the full daily report (in French) here.
Sciensano has also nearly finished a document with the most important mouth mask information and instructions on how to make them yourself.
Belgium is to review its way of counting COVID-19 related deaths as they may be too "transparent". The Belgian way of recording the number of deaths is not entirely objective and has probably overestimated the number, especially in residential care centres as all those suspected of having died from the coronavirus have been included without testing.
Red Cross Flanders will distribute mouth masks to people with a disability who live at home, Flemish minister of Welfare Wouter Beke reports.
After the corona crisis, an economic recovery policy must be pursued, for which Belgium will need a designated government whose participating parties have a parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said.
Flemish Minister of Culture Jambon may not close the door for the smaller festivals. For a category of smaller festivals, the National Security Council will still take a position before this extension period expires. “I certainly don't want to prejudge the facts, but I think that will be a more nuanced judgment”.
The Brussels government announced a new single premium of EUR 2,000 euros for small Brussels businesses that are not obliged to close.
In the Brussels region, there is an agreement in principle for the granting of an exceptional bonus to help pay rents and support the most vulnerable tenants, according to the housing committee of the Brussels parliament.
The residential care centres and care institutions will remain closed to visitors in Flanders for the time being. Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke goes against the relaxation measure of the National Security Council. The care task force is developing a visitor plan for a later stage when people are ready for a safe visit. To address loneliness among residents, the government is now allocating EUR 375,000 to purchase tablets so they can have visual contact with family and friends. In contrast to residential care centres, people who live by themselves and who can’t move, will be allowed to receive visitors from one person. This measure will take effect soon.
Visitors will be banned in the Brussels residential care centres until Sunday at least, says Iriscare. The organisation is also surprised by the National Security Council's communication about allowing one symptom-free confidential visitor. In the coming days, it will examine with the sector and the Regions how the new measure can be implemented in practice.
The first 50 respirators developed by the Brussels University VUB engineers from the FabLab were released last Friday from the Audi factory in Forest. These prototypes can now be tested.
Companies must prepare now to restart their activities after 3 May, said the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB). The FEB requests that the Group of Experts in charge of the exit strategy (GEES) quickly presents a clear strategy for getting out of confinement: “Companies that are preparing their planning for the coming weeks should know what measures to take from the start of next week.
It is still unclear how the coastal mayors will handle summer tourism. Ostend Mayor Bart Tommelein proposes to give priority to its own residents and those who have a second residence on the coast. He is even considering issuing a ‘beach pass’. Other coastal mayors want to receive tourists from only Belgium. The coastal mayors meet today at noon.
The Brussels Regional Security Council (CORES, Conseil Régional bruxellois de Sécurité) meeting reiterated the measures related to the prohibition of ceremonies, rallies, but also the rules of social distancing during religious celebrations. CORES asks people to adapt their practices to the current situation. The Christian, Jewish and Orthodox Easter celebrations are taking place soon, as well as Ramadan which will begin around April 23. Muslim care staff and detainees can postpone their Ramadan fast, mosques will be closed.
Federal Government COVID-19 information
The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)