COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 27 April 2020.
Sciensano update of 27 April. 553 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 77 (14%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 46 687 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 715 (10%) cases located in Brussels.
In the past 24 hours, 127 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 93 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 26 April, a total of 14 764 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 10 878 people have left.
113 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 207 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 129 (16%) were in Brussels.
Read the full daily report (in French) here.
A summary of the National Security Council measures announced on 24 April. You can access an English translation of the full government press statement here.
"May 4 is a starting moment," said Prime Minister Wilmès. "There is absolutely no certainty that the stores will open on May 11. Everything we have decided is conditional. That is the whole philosophy of the approach. Everything depends on the further spread of the virus."
From 4 May:
A mouth mask is recommended in public places.
A mouth mask or equivalent is mandatory on public transport for everyone over the age of 12.
Industries and B2B services can resume.
Fabric and yarn stores can reopen in order for people to make their own masks.
General and specialised health care will be gradually and safely expanded
Two people (previously one) or a family can do outdoor sports with respect for the safe distance (but changing rooms, canteens, etc. must remain closed). Outdoor activities must be active, you can’t remain static (sit on a bench or sunbathe in the parks for example)
Working from home should remain the norm.
From 11 May:
From 18 May:
Gradual and partial opening of primary and secondary schools with priority given to diploma years, such as 6th primary and 6th secondary, in smaller classes of maximum 10 students. The wearing of cloth masks will be compulsory for teachers and students (over 12) all day long (there would be a test day on 15 May for schools that wish it).
The further the date, the less certain these measures become and are highly dependent on how the disease evolves. Amongst measures still to be discussed are:
Possibility of small private meetings at home.
The opening of museums could be considered, subject to conditions (some museums – see below - are planning for reopening on 18 May).
For contact professions (such as hairdressers), the situation will be examined
You may be allowed to exercise in the open air with more than two people who do not live under your roof
For group sports, outdoor training will be allowed again if
o It is an approved sports club
o A trainer is present
o Social distancing is respected
From 8 June at the earliest (and very uncertain):
Cafés, restaurants might be able to open again step by step under strict conditions
Youth summer camps (this will be discussed end of May)
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès stated that every Belgian will receive at least one cloth mouth mask from the government. The government has ordered 12 million cloth masks. Local authorities are also busy, said Philippe De Backer. The use of mouth masks will be mandatory on public transport from May 4, but by then it will not be possible to deliver a fabric mouth mask to everyone, said Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens.
Some 10 000 coronavirus screening tests were carried out each day last week in Belgium, said the cabinet of Minister Philippe De Backer. In the meantime, more than 110 000 complete testing kits have been sent to communities. 90 000 tests have already been taken and registered: almost 9 out of 10 tests were negative. In the coming weeks, the testing capacity will be further increased, it must exceed 20 000 by next week and will then be increased to more than 25 000 tests per day.
“The extended Easter weekend of two weeks ago has not led to a significant increase in the number of infections,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht. However, he warns that the number of deaths will continue to increase in the coming months.
For measures to be softened from 4 May, hospital admissions should drop from 200 to 100, says virologist Marc Van Ranst, patients on intensive care should not be more than 450 says virologist Steven Van Gucht.
Some 4.3% of the Belgian population has developed antibodies against the new coronavirus, reports Sciensano.
Red Cross calls for blood donations as hospitals will gradually resume activities early May. "If blood supplies were good three weeks ago, they have declined sharply since then," said spokesperson Thomas Paulus.
Markets and market vendors will certainly not be able to resume on 11 May. "We do not know where we stand and when we can resume our activities," said Rudi De Wilde, chairman of their national association.
"At this stage", Brussels Airlines still plans to resume flights on 15 May, said a spokeswoman for the airline. A final decision will be made soon.
SNCB and Infrabel are committed to resuming train services "almost completely" from Monday 4 May.
The municipalities on the Belgian coast will work together to better manage the influx of tourists, expected from 18 May and this summer, while respecting the measures intended to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The Léopold II tunnel in Brussels is closed from 22h00 on Sunday in both directions. For the moment, the renovation works will continue day and night because there is now less traffic in the capital. The construction and renovation works are scheduled to take 4 months.
More than 60 000 police reports relating to breaking the confinement rules have been drawn up since the start of the lockdown. The total amount of settlements (aka issued fines) for offenses now amounts to EUR 2.2 million. The College of Prosecutors wants the unpaid fines to be recovered via taxes.
Museums are considering partial reopening from 18 May as feasible. The sector had already put that date forward in its own exit strategy developed behind the scenes.
Federal Government COVID-19 information
The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)