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3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com


News and Events -----------

  • 23 Apr 2020 1:06 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    As many of us know, confinement does not necessarily equate with inactivity. While its much-anticipated spring show Serial Eater has been postponed, the design museum CID at heritage site Grand-Hornu is staying in contact with its public via its Facebook page.


    Now it has launched a series of youtube video clips (in French) that reflect on the museum’s past exhibitions and the fascinating history of the former coal mining village near Mons in Wallonia. Director Marie Pok introduces the series, followed by bite-size presentations from the museum’s various guides – all sharing their insights - and all of them naturally working from home.

    Musuems, art galleries and cultural centres across Belgium have launched virtual visits and initiatives. Find more fun virtual events happening this weekend on the Bulletin website.

  • 23 Apr 2020 12:17 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday, 23 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 23 April. 908 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 116 (13%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 42 797 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 345 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 211 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 367 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 22 April, a total of 14 008 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 9 800 people have left.

    230 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 35 (15%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 6 490 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 014 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    A draft version of the Belgian exit strategy has been leaked including proposals for the reopening of the economy, social life and schools. First business, then the schools would reopen. A family visit or visit of close friends would be allowed (limited to one evening per weekend and with a group of up to ten people, the same group each week). Teleworking would remain mandatory where possible. According to Prime Minister Wilmès, it is dangerous to spread unconfirmed information now. Her cabinet announced that there will be answers on Friday - after the Security Council - and not earlier.

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexander De Croo talked about the restart of the economy: it will be under strict conditions. "An exit does not mean that everything is over," he says. "We will have to put conditions on who can restart when. It will be phased. Public transport must also be ready for that.”

    According to research by the University of Antwerp, only 3% of Belgians are immune to the coronavirus, that is still a long way from the so-called group or herd immunity.

    A bus will run in the Brussels region to test residential care centres’ staff. The nurses, doctors and students on board are all volunteers.

    57% of people who show two or more symptoms of COVID-19 still go out and about without additional protection. Only 4% of people with two or more symptoms leave the house with a mouth mask, according to a study of the University of Antwerp.

    Four out of ten infected people hardly feel the virus, not everyone gets symptoms.

    Iconic Brussels hotel Le Metropole is now likely to close its doors permanently. Its management says the situation is hopeless due to the structural losses of recent years and the current corona crisis.

    SNCB asks that people wear a mask when travelling on public transport during ‘deconfinement’.

    Belgian State Security is concerned about misinformation about the coronavirus and the rise of extremist publications.

    The first day of the month of Ramadan 2020 is today, Thursday, April 23 in Belgium, from 6 pm.

    The activities of the Iris Festival (9-10 May), which celebrate the creation of the Brussels Region, are cancelled.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 22 Apr 2020 12:24 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday, 22 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 22 April. 933 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 60 (6%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 41 889 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 229 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 263 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 432 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 21 April, a total of 13 797 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 9 433 people have left.

    266 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 39 (15%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 6 262 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 980 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    The Belgian exit strategy from lockdown is taking shape. The Group of Experts in charge of Exit Strategy delivers its initial report today. The focus for Friday’s NSC meeting will mainly be on the socio-economic strategy. Unions and employers have been asked to draw up a restart plan for each sector. The National Security Council will probably present a timeline to offer companies perspective. The Friday meeting should also clarify the programme for the phased reopening of schools.

    Minister Philippe De Backer guarantees the "highest standard for privacy" for the proposed corona app in Belgium. The application user terms will be set into federal laws, he says. As part of the exit from confinement, testing will also be essential to manage infected people and warn those with whom they have had contact, which will also require testing people with weak symptoms, he confirmed.

    The Minister of Employment has tabled a plan for a new parental "Corona" paid leave (EUR 580 for a part-time job) to allow single parents who are telecommuting to take care of children.

    Virologist Marc Van Ranst says he is not yet reassured by the declining figures in this corona epidemic. "Only with less than 100 hospital admissions per day, which is about one per hospital, will I sleep more peacefully."

    According to Le Soir, nine out of ten workers want to continue teleworking one to three days a week after the easing of coronavirus measures.

    Virologist Steven Van Gucht of the Crisis Center warns against infections that occur before the first symptoms of the coronavirus. He refers to a new Nature Medicine study: "About 44% of infections occur two days before the first symptoms appear".

    The Royal Belgian Academies of Medicine has called for broader testing and wider follow-up to get out of lockdown. Anyone who has come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient and shows no symptoms himself will also have to be tested.

    As part of the upcoming relaxation of the corona measures, the Risk Management Group wants general practitioners (GPs) to be able to test patients with flu symptoms from COVID-19 on a large scale from 3 May. "The GPs will be ready," reports the Belgian Association of Physician Syndicates. "We have to wait for the government."

    Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia will jointly recruit 2,000 'corona detectives' to look for people who may be infected with the corona virus. These contact tracers must check the contacts of potentially infected people and encourage them to undergo a test. Those tested positive must be quarantined for two weeks. The measure should ensure that any relaxation of the measures does not lead to a new outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

    Tour operator TUI Belgium has decided to cancel all of its air travel and TUI flights for one more week, i.e. until 17 May. Car trips and city trips are suspended until 10 May.

    Flemish bus company De Lijn wants masks to be compulsory on public transport.

    The Bozar arts centre wants to open the doors as soon as possible, its current exhibition by artist Keith Haring costs a lot of money. The director, Paul Dujardin, has a plan ready to open the centre as soon as possible.

    The Ancienne Belgique will not organise “sandwiches in the Park” nor “Feeërieën” this year.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 21 Apr 2020 12:27 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Tuesday, 21 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 21 April. 973 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 60 (6%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 30 956 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 169 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 172 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 107 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 20 April, a total of 13 534 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 9 002 people have left.

    170 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 28 (16%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 5 998 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 942 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    An important question in the discussion about the reopening of schools is the role children play in the spread of the virus. Based on what is happening in other countries, it appears that children are not the driving force behind the epidemic, says epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme of the University of Antwerp. Yves Van Laethem from CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels also implies that children might be less contagious than thought at the start. This is important in guiding how the return to school is managed.

    A dozen families of COVID-19 victims have already asked for a lawyer to start a civil case against the Belgian State for its management of the crisis. Brussels lawyer Hamid El Abouti is studying the possibility of taking collective action involving civil liability of the State

    The Ministry of Defence is assisting at ten residential care centres in Belgium.

    From 30 April, the Leuven city council will provide every resident from the age of 12 with a free, washable mouth mask.

    After McDonald's, Quick and Burger King also announced a reopening of their drive-ins. From Thursday (23 April) it will be possible to pick up meals by car at 40 places, a third of the total network in Belgium.

    In Brussels pedestrians and cyclists will have priority and will be able to circulate on the roads. The speed of cars, trams and buses will be limited to only 20 km / h. The Woluwepark in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre will be completely car-free from today (Tuesday 21 April).

    The local police of the Brussels Capital / Ixelles are noticing ‘quarantine fatigue’. They issued 400 police reports last weekend against persons who did not comply with the quarantine measures.

    The next National Security Council meeting is on Friday (24 April) should give more clarity for couples with wedding plans and other mass events.

    Brussels recycling parks are open in case of emergency or absolute necessity.

    Bpost will prioritise the latest packages received. Due to the high volume of packages and the security measures in place, delays have accumulated in their delivery system.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 20 Apr 2020 4:43 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected update and news snippets for Monday, 20 April 2020.


    Sciensano update of 20 April. 1 487 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 238 (16%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 39 983 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 109 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 232 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 138 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 19 April, a total of 13 362 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 8 895 people have left.

    168 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 28 (17%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 5 828 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 914 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Belgium's coronavirus measures have been extended until at least 3 May and big public events, such as festivals, are cancelled this summer until 31 August. Brussels' Ommegang parade (1-4 July) is among the cancelled events. Costume makers in the workshops will instead be making face masks for front line workers. Tickets already purchased for the 2020 event will remain valid next year. The Meyboom, on 9 August, will go ahead but in a different form, according to Brussels mayor Philippe Close. 2020 will be the 712th edition of this UNESCO-recognised folk event, which has not missed a single year despite invasions and occupations of the city.

    Belgium is now capable of carrying out more than 10 000 coronavirus tests per day. The new swab tests were developed by the COVID-19 research unit at ULiège. While Belgium has the capacity to carry out 10 000 tests a day, it is only doing about 6 000. Prime minister Sophie Wilmès says due to a shortage of lab personnel.

    Federal police in Belgium have prosecuted 36 000 people so far for breaching the stay-at-home and social distancing rules since they were introduced in mid-March. More than half of the people caught by police were under the age of 30.

    Citizens and companies are being asked to donate face masks and other personal protective equipment to nursing homes in Brussels. The appeal was launched by Brussels consultancy StP Communications to help alleviate the shortage of equipment in residential homes struggling to contain an increasing number of Covid-19 cases. 

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 18 Apr 2020 12:25 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Saturday, 18 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 18 April. 1,045 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 128 (12%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 37,183 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 3,739 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 303 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 387 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 17, a total of 12,865 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 8,348 people have left. The evolution of hospitalised patients in Belgium is shown above.

    290 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 37 (13%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 5,453 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 850 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 17 Apr 2020 11:55 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    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.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 16 Apr 2020 2:56 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 news and data update for Thursday 16 April.

    Sciensano update of 16 April. 1,236 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 64 (5%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 34,809 confirmed cases have been reported including 3,468 (10%) in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 310 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 455 people discharged from hospital. Between March 15 and April 15, 12,242 patients with COVID-19 entered hospital and 7,562 people have left.

    417 new deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the past 24 hours, of which 74 (18%) were in Brussels. To date a total of 4,857 COVID-19 deaths have been were reported in Belgium of which 748 (15%) were resident in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Read a message from Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes on the extension of the COVID-19 lock-down to 3 May here.

    Read details of the extended lock-down here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 16 Apr 2020 10:50 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    BE-Alert: Coronavirus: measures extended until May 3

    The following message from Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès was distributed via be-alerts.be on the evening of Wednesday 15 April.


    "During the National Security Council (CNS) on Wednesday 15 April, several decisions were made. As always, these decisions are based on the advice of scientific experts.

    It was decided at this meeting of the CNS, in consultation with the Minister-Presidents, to extend the containment measures currently in force until May 3 inclusive.

    In order to make this containment extension more sustainable, we have also decided that:

    • DIY stores and garden centres will be able to reopen, under the same conditions as food stores. Safety distances must therefore apply.
    • We also allow residents of accommodation facilities - that is, nursing homes or centres for the disabled, for example - to be visited by a designated family member. This is allowed only if the resident in question has had no symptoms of the disease for two weeks. The visiting person should always be the same. Nursing homes will organize these visits. These rules will also apply to people who live alone and who cannot move.

    The basic instructions remain unchanged until May 3 and must be observed. The police will continue to ensure this.

    A new NSC will be organized next week and will aim to work out more precisely the next stage of deconfinement. Our objective is to be able to organize the gradual deconfinement for the beginning of May. Note that this will be an evolutionary process and based, as always, on the work of scientists.

    This strategy will be based on several pillars, namely safety distances, large-scale screening but also tracing, and the development of new rules to apply in the world of work.

    It is clear that wearing a mask - even a comfort mask - will also play an important role in the deconfinement strategy. A first report was sent to us by scientists and federal and regional health representatives. This tells us that, when the containment measures are gradually lifted, cloth masks will be recommended for any situation where the safety distances cannot be respected. This will notably involve national production. However, masks will not replace current hygiene measures (hand washing etc) and safety distances.

    In the short term, the NSC will decide on the analyses and proposals of the group in charge of the Exit Strategy, in particular on the adequate timing and the conditions for gradual reopening of all shops and, eventually, cafes, restaurants and bars as well as the situation regarding schools, internships and youth movements and travel. It is already a given that no mass event such as festivals can be organized before August 31 inclusive.

    Regarding the world of work, the current rules will remain in force until memoranda of understanding can be agreed and put in place, sector by sector. The objective of these protocols will be to allow companies to resume normal activity as quickly as possible, while ensuring the adequate working conditions of their employees and which will have to be adapted to the circumstances. Teleworking should continue to be favoured for some time to come."

  • 15 Apr 2020 6:49 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Following today's meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) Belgium's coronavirus measures, including the closure of shops and schools and a requirement to stay at home, are extended until at least 3 May. All big public events, such as festivals, are cancelled this summer until 31 August.


    Shopping is allowed in food stores, pharmacies, newsagents, pet food stores, shops selling baby products and from Monday (20 April) also in Garden Centres and DIY stores

    All non-essential shops will remain closed until 3 May as will cafes, bars and restaurants. The NSC will meet again on Friday 24 April to set out a provisional schedule for the reopening of non-essential shops, cafes and restaurants.

    Residents in care homes and elderly people living alone at home can receive one visitor - always the same person - provided the visitor show no symptoms. Visits to care homes must be booked in advance.

    Once the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, the wearing of face masks will be "advised for any situation where a contact of at least 1.5 meters cannot be kept and in places where there will be a lot of people (for example in public transport and supermarkets)".

    Any decision to reopen schools will be made next week at a national level. Possible dates for reopening are 4, 11 or 18 May. 

    More on The Bulletin website.

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