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11 May - COVID-19 News update

11 May 2020 1:03 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 11 May 2020.

All shops are open from today but social distancing rules must be respected.

Contact tracing starts today, people tested positive will receive a call, however Federal police have noted that fraudulent SMS messages are circulating on the tracing of the coronavirus. “The contact tracing has started today,” said Yves Stevens, a spokesperson for the Belgian National Crisis Centre. “Unfortunately, we have established that phone calls have been made and messages have been sent by fraudsters,” he added.

“We advise everyone to programme the numbers 02 214 19 19 and 8811 into their phones. If a contact tracer calls you, it will only be with the first number, and a text message will only be sent by the last number,” Stevens said. “If you receive a message that does not come from one of those numbers, ignore it, and do click on possible links in the messages,” he added.

Sciensano update of 11 May. 368 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 36 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 53 449 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 460 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

In the past 24 hours, only 60 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 55 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 10 May, a total of 16 279 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 13 697 people have left.

62 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (19%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 707 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 348 (15%) were in Brussels.

Currently less than 500 people are at intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

Read the full daily report (in Dutch) here.

Belgium has been hit relatively hard by the new corona virus. According to health economist Lieven Annemans, this has to do with the high population density, its central location and the degree of air pollution in Belgium.

“We don't yet know how many antibodies are needed to be immune,” said epidemiologist Van Damme said during a TV debate. “Reuniting with the family would be more dangerous than going to the store,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht. He insisted on the importance of social distancing.

The expert group preparing for the exit strategy (GEES) is from now on assisted by an expert working on group mental health to give specific advice on the psychosocial impact of the exit strategy. They will give their latest advice on Wednesday to the National Security Council.

The external borders of the EU should remain mostly closed until 15 June. "The situation remains fragile both in Europe and in the world", the European Commission said.

Minister of Work Nathalie Muylle will propose to extend the system of temporary unemployment due to the corona crisis until 1 September.

More than 1.7 million surgical masks have been distributed in recent days in Belgium, in hospitals, ambulance services, home nurses, midwives, dentists, psychiatric centres or even funeral directors. A total of 27.5 million surgical masks have already been distributed.

Temporary unemployment measures have been expanded to the artistic and event sector.

The COVID-19 crisis could put almost 50,000 additional Brussels residents out of work.

Reopening stores helps 100,000 people get back to work in Belgium, says Voka, the Flemish network of companies. This number is added to the 150,000 employees who were able to return to work on 4 May.

The federal government has extended the validity of the electronic meal vouchers, eco vouchers, sports and cultural vouchers and gift vouchers by six months.

The city of Brussels has installed fences in the Rue Neuve shopping street, in order to create two walking directions, Mayor Philippe Close explained. Social distancing markings have been placed on the floor should queues arise outside the shops.

Telecom data collected by the Taskforce Data Against Corona in recent months shows that Belgians have properly followed up the imposed quarantine. Yet we have moved more often in recent days. The data influenced the decisions of the National Security Council.

A spontaneous strike - especially among bus drivers – is taking place on the STIB/MIVB network today. Some drivers believe that the health security conditions are not being met.

36 000 police reports have already been issued for violations of the corona rules.

The OCMW/CPAS will receive support of EUR 15 million from the federal government. The CPAS has asked for a premium of EUR 200 euros for all social beneficiaries.

In the centre of Brussels speed limit will be 20km / hr for a three-month test phase. The measure should facilitate respect for social distancing, in particular in densely populated areas, where the sidewalks are very narrow. 

Young people and men are more likely not to respect the confinement rules. According to a study by Sciensano, 16% of 18-24-year-old people do not comply with confinement measures.

Waste collection is back to normal from Monday in Brussels.

Useful Links

Federal Government COVID-19 information

The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)

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