COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday, 30 April 2020.
Sciensano update of 30 April. 660 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 72 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 48 519 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 979 (10%) cases located in Brussels.
In the past 24 hours, 178 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 293 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 29 April, a total of 15 239 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 11 576 people have left.
111 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 9 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 594 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 158 (15%) were in Brussels.
Read the full daily report (in French) here.
The current evolution of the corona crisis makes it possible to relax the measures from 4 May and implement phase 1a of the deconfinement strategy, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has confirmed.
The government has decided that the sale of surgical mouth masks to private individuals, for example in supermarkets, will be allowed again.
A tracing application bill allowing to trace the people contaminated by the coronavirus will be submitted to parliament, said a member of Minister De Backer's cabinet.
Asked about the special powers of the emergency government whose possible extension must be decided before the end of June, Georges-Louis Bouchez confirmed that the liberal party MR would not ask to extend them if the health situation allows.
By Sunday, all staff and residents of Walloon residential care centres must have undergone a test. This should pave the way to allow visitors afterwards, under strict conditions and if circumstances permit, says Walloon Minister of Health Christie Morreale.
Professor of intensive care at university hospital UZ Leuven Geert Meyfroidt is "tired but satisfied", now that the corona peak in his hospital is over but says "We are a bit afraid of May 4th."
Contact tracing in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia: test phase starts on 4 May, full start on 11 May 11. Tracing is the responsibility of the Regions, but common tools are / will be implemented. Contact tracers will have access to a digital platform common to the three entities.
From Monday 4 May, visitors can again visit facilities for persons with a disability says the Flemish Agency for Persons with a Disability.
'Six out of ten Belgians already have a mouth mask at home' according to De Standaard.
From Monday 4 May, the city of Brussels has decided to distribute reusable mouth masks to all its inhabitants older than 12 years. Residents who would like to receive a mask must apply for it themselves.
From May 4 anyone with symptoms of the viral infection can be tested.
From the beginning of next week, general practitioners could start testing their patients on a large scale. But at the moment there is not enough testing and protective equipment for the doctors. They point at the lack of tracing information and the lack of coordination at all levels. Non-urgent consultations with doctors will therefore be on the back burner.
It is important to keep the reproduction rate of the virus (the number of people that a virus carrier can infect) below 1, as an essential factor to manage the pandemic. Currently this is 0.79 in Belgium, according to a study between April 20 and 26.
The National Bank releases its figures relating to the 1st quarter. Belgium's gross domestic product fell 3.9% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter. The corona measures only account for two weeks in that quarter.
Flemish fishermen might be forced to stop their activity if this situation continues. The majority of them have barely reached break even since fish prices have fallen sharply since mid-March.
"Repeating a year must be the exception" this school year says Minister Caroline Désir. She decided to cancel external certification tests as well as the end of year exams. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their class work during the year.
Belgian coastal town mayors will submit a document by 8 May with concrete proposals to the National Security Council: people with second residence would be welcome quite soon, people who rent only in June. No day tourists would be allowed to visit as long as the cafés and restaurants are closed.
SNCB will be selling cloth mouth masks and alcohol gel through vending machines to passengers in eighty stations across the country.
Until 1 June, there will be no commercial flights by Brussels Airlines. Once operations resume, it will be with a "reduced but stable flight offer" that will expand with demand. In addition face masks will be compulsory on Brussels Airlines and other companies of the Lufthansa group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings) from 4 May until the end of August to cover nose and mouth on board the aircraft.
Belgium was one of the twelve European member states that asked the European Commission on Wednesday to withdraw the obligation for airlines to refund passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the corona crisis. Vouchers would replace refunds.
Belgian football clubs are selling their own branded mouth masks. The proceeds of the masks do not only serve for the clubs’ finances, but partly go to charity.
The Walloon Union for the Protection of Animals calls for support of animal shelters and parks during this crisis. Without that support, as many as 70% of associations can only last for another few months.
French-speaking university UCLouvain shares survey results of 6 500 Belgians: we have not all started drinking during the lockdown.
Federal Government COVID-19 information
The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)