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COVID-19 News update for 28 May

28 May 2020 1:19 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday 28 May 2020.

New measures for education were announced as of last night (27 May):

For kindergartens: All kindergarten years can reopen from June 2. The pre-schoolers are taught as was the case before corona. So they are taught in their entire class and the teacher should not wear a mask. A mouth mask is recommended for contacts between teachers. Respecting the safety distance is not required.

For primary schools: All primary school years can reopen from June 8. A trial day is possible from June 5. Students should not wear a mask, but it is recommended for teachers if they cannot keep sufficient distance. ‘Contact bubbles’ are used in class. It is the intention that even outside the classroom the bubbles stay together as much as possible - in the playground, for example.

For secondary schools: From the June 2, in addition to the sixth-year students (and possibly seventh-year students), the second and fourth year-students can also come to school two days a week. Pupils of the first, third and fifth years of secondary school will have to come a few more days this school year, with a minimum of one day, to be able to close the school year in their familiar class. Students and teachers are strongly advised to wear a mouth mask. In secondary education, the distance rules still apply: four square meters per student and lessons in fixed classrooms in fixed groups of maximum 14 students. Only for certain practical subjects can students move to other classrooms.

The above is "a maximum scenario". Schools can always deviate from this depending on the local circumstances and safety situation.

ICYMI The World Health Organization has paused the use of hydroxychloroquine in its global study of COVID-19 treatments amid a review of safety data. Belgian public health institution Sciensano has changed its guidelines for hospitalised coronavirus patients. It now strongly discourages the use of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Nearly 70 % of Europeans believe the European Union should be empowered to deal with crises such as the corona pandemic, says a survey the European Parliament conducted among 20 000+ EU citizens.

The catering industry will not reopen before June 8, confirms the Minister of Economy.

Only 6 % of the Belgian population has been exposed to the coronavirus, warns virologist Steven Van Gucht. This means that 94 % of the population can still be infected. “This is the harsh reality: the virus still has a large open play area where it can wreak havoc.” Backing this up in early May, only 8.4 % of health workers in Belgian hospitals had antibodies according to a study by Sciensano and the Institute of Tropical Medicine.

In contrast "A very large majority" of patients with a minor form of COVID-19 develop antibodies that could then immunise them "for several weeks" against the disease, according to a study by the Institut Pasteur and the Strasbourg University Hospital.

Red Cross Flanders urgently needs blood donors. Before the corona crisis, the Red Cross had more than 400 donors daily, now barely 200. The extended Pentecost weekend is imminent and there is currently too little stock. The Red Cross is also seeking plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVIDd-19.

In Woluwe-Saint-Lambert some 80 000 masks have been distributed in letter boxes this week, but more than one in two Brussels residents do not wear a mask.

Playgrounds are open again for under-13s.

The exotic market on Saturday and the Vogelenmarkt on Sunday will start again in Antwerp this weekend.

The catering sector calls for urgent measures such as a form of VAT reduction. The unions even propose to make restaurant costs 100 percent deductible for private individuals as well. Preparing for the restart, 200 catering establishments in Brussels have already requested terrace extensions.

The National Union of Landlords and Co-owners (SNPC) is opposing the extension of the moratorium on home evictions until August 31 in the Brussels-Capital Region.

The arrival and departure halls of Brussels Airport are open again for people who pick up or drop off passengers, but masks are required. The federal police can still close access to the arrival hall on certain repatriation flights to avoid too many people in the hall.

In Brussels rush hour is reemerging and De Lijn, STIB and NMBS are seeing a steady increase in occupancy. Buses in Flanders have a passenger occupancy of 25-30%. SNCB has 20 % of its normal number of travellers. Brussels public transport company STIB sees its passenger numbers rise from 22 % to 28 % in the metro and to 30 % 'above ground'.

More than 50 STIB drivers paid tribute to their colleague who died of COVID-19. The company now plans to test its staff for the virus.

Zeebrugge and Blankenberge want to work together to spread tourists across their beaches. If you want to sunbathe on the beach of Blankenberge this summer, you will have to do so behind a wind break and a maximum of 10 000 people will be admitted, one-third of the nominal high summer capacity.

The Bois de la Cambre will partially reopen to car traffic today (Thursday) in a classic Belgian compromise. The park will remain largely car-free until the end of the summer. The two roads at the northern end of the park have reopened to motorists from Monday to Saturday until the end of August. The south of the park will remain car-free and open to recreational activities.

Brussels Airlines will resume its flights (gradually) from 15 June. By the end of August, the airline will again offer some 60 destinations in 33 countries. Those who have already booked a flight, but couldn’t take it, can rebook their ticket free of charge until the end of 2021.

The contact tracking app is back on the health ministers' agenda. The proposed technology behind it is the same as in other European countries and is as privacy friendly as possible. Live tests of the tracing application that will help trace the contacts of a coronavirus patient are expected to take place in early July.

City of Brussels confirms that the football cup final between Antwerp and Club Brugge will take place on August 1 without an audience.

Sciensano statistics update of 28 May. 257 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 28 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 57 849 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 870 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

In the past 24 hours, some 47 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 107 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 27 May, a total of 17 174 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 15 572 people have left.

31 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 3 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 388 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 437 (15%) were in Brussels.

Currently 208 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

Read the daily report (in French) here.

Useful Links

Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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