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Brussels British Community Association

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 -----------

  • 15 Apr 2020 11:44 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday, 15 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 15 April. 2,454 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 95 (4%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 33,573 confirmed cases have been reported across Belgium with 3,404 (10%) cases in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 250 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 239 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 14, 11,932 patients with COVID-19 entered hospital and 7,107 have left.

    283 new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours, of which 37 (13%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 4,440 deaths have been reported of which 674 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    At 14h30, the National Security Council will meet again to consider the lockdown measures. In order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus and to continue to reduce the number of infections, the measures are expected to be extended by another two weeks. The first report of the Group of Experts in charge of the Exit Strategy (GEES) was submitted to the government yesterday.

    Belgium has tripled orders for FFP2 and FFP3 mouth masks with orders for more than 113 million surgical and 49 million FFP2 / FFP3 mouth masks according to Minister Philippe De Backer

    A hopeful message from virologist Steven Van Gucht: "The figures are evolving positively," says Van Gucht. "The virus is getting tired. It is important that we now maintain our grip.” After the lockdown, mouth masks will still play an important role, says virologist Marc Van Ranst.

    The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) has lifted the quotas on paracetamol, the sales of this drug in pharmacies now having returned to normal. However, it maintains the rule of a maximum of one box per patient.

    According to the Belgian drug agency, hydroxychloroquine can damage red blood cells.

    About a quarter of employers are postponing the payment of their social contributions due to the corona crisis.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects eurozone countries to see their economies shrink by an average of 7.3 percent this year due to the corona virus. Belgium would do slightly better, with an expected contraction of 6.9 percent.

    Contactless payments can be made up to EUR 50 from today.

    Today, the European Commission has presented its roadmap to prepare for a coordinated release from confinement. The EU wants to avoid the chaos of the beginnings of crisis management. Press release here

    Consumers whose trip has been cancelled can refuse coupons, says Didier Reynders. "It is [the] consumers' right to be reimbursed," said Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice.

    Brussels transport company STIB will start carrying messages for family and friends living in Brussels from tomorrow. Anyone can send a written or spoken message via Facebook, followed by the name and address of the person for whom the message is intended. The messages will be played through loudspeakers, while the bus drives through Brussels when in the vicinity of the recipient’s house! STIB Facebook page here.

    Mobile phone data show a considerable increase in extra-municipal trips during the Easter weekend. STIB agrees with travel numbers increased by 10 to 15% over the Easter weekend.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 14 Apr 2020 11:59 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 update and news snippets for Tuesday, 14 April 2020.


    Sciensano update of 14 April. 530 new confirmed cases have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 62 (12%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 31,119 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium including 3,309 (11%) cases in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 242 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized in Belgium and 161 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 13, 11,722 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 6,868 people have been discharged.

    262 new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 29 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 4,157 deaths have been reported of which 637 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    The Belgian National Security Council will meet tomorrow (15 April) to decide on future confinement measures.

    Finance Minister Alexander De Croo has granted an additional extension for the payment of corporate tax and VAT for the month of April.

    Philippe De Backer has agreed with the Regions on a series of common test rules. 121,673 tests for the coronavirus will be carried out in the Flemish residential care centres, 66,966 test kits for Wallonia and 20,702 for Brussels. The testing process will take three weeks.

    The government issued a royal decree this weekend, as part of its special powers, to "encourage" the temporary mobility of federal civil servants to meet the needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Public Service, David Clarinval.

    There is a chance that plasma from cured corona patients can heal other corona patients. A study is currently underway at the Erasmus Hospital in Rotterdam to study the effect on 440 patients.

    Farmers and horticulturalists who are looking for extra helping hands for the harvest can visit the online platform helpdeoogst.be from today.

    Both Touring and STIB notice more non-essential trips in the last four to five days. “There is clearly more traffic on the road,” says a Touring spokesperson. STIB will also adjust the timetable so that people who are forced to use public transport can also do so safely by keeping sufficient distance.

    SNCB reminds people that taking the train is not free. You have to buy a ticket. Even if the companions are no longer obliged to check the tickets.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 13 Apr 2020 1:14 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Virtual Brussels Folk Club project is the brainchild of John Smillie and his stalwart team who invited a merry band of BFC performers to submit material at very short notice. Special thanks to Olivier Buckley’s father, David, for stitching this together and doing some editing.


    As John says: "It isn’t perfect. This has been a steep learning curve, against the clock. There is a lip sync issue with all my introductions and some of the performances. However, we don’t know how to fix this and a lot of work has gone into it to get it to this point, and so what we cannot fix, we live with."

    Many of his closest friends admit that John’s lips often start to move before his brain has properly engaged. So no change there, then.

    John also points out that he was recorded using a Huawei phone, and all data needs to go to Beijing, and then GCHQ, for approval before release which may also account for the digital delay and sync issues.

    In any case, he and the team are proud to bring you the first ever Virtual Brussels Folk Club.

    John says: "If we ever do another, we will make the “shows” shorter, perhaps 30 minutes total. However, it has been interesting and hopefully people will accept it in the spirit in which it has been made." We look forward to it!

    We wish you all a safe, sane and musical Happy Easter!

  • 13 Apr 2020 1:05 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Easter Monday, 13 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 13 April. 942 new confirmed cases have been reported in the last 24 hours of which 113 (12%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 30,589 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 3,247 (11%) cases being in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 310 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 239 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 12, 11,480 patients with COVID-19 have entered the hospital and 6,707 have left hospital.

    303 new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours with 29 (10%) of these in Brussels. To date, a total of 3,903 deaths have been reported in Belgium with 608 (16%) in Brussels.

    In terms of the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 and those in intensive care, the daily numbers have clearly ‘plateaued’ and are, hopefully, on a slow decline (see below).


    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Bruxelles-Propreté has announced that from today (13 April) collections of blue and yellow rubbish bags will recommence.

    Following further reorganisation of collections, taking into account lock-down constraints, Bruxelles-Propreté will be able to collect most of the blue and yellow bags again. Collections will be on the usual days for collection, but may be later in the day than usual. More information here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 11 Apr 2020 12:41 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news for Saturday, 11 April 2020.


    Sciensano update of 11 April. 1,351 new confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium in the past 24 hours of which 149 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 28,018 confirmed cases have been reported with 2,991 (11%) of these being in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 421 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 418 people left hospital. Between March 15 and April 10, a total of 10,777 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 5,986 people have left.

    327 new deaths have been reported in Belgium in the past 24 hours, of which 70 (21%) were in the Brussels region. To date, a total of 3,346 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported including 538 (16%) 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)

  • 10 Apr 2020 12:42 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets and two infographics for Good Friday, 10 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 10 April. 1,684 new confirmed cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, of which 178 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 26,667 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium including 2,842 (11%) cases in Brussels. In the past 24 hours, 462 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized and 404 people left the hospital. Between March 15 and April 9, 10,356 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 5,568 people have left. 325 new deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the past 24 hours with 58 (18%) of these being in Brussels. To date, a total of 3,019 deaths have been reported in Belgium of which 468 (16%) were in Brussels. Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Our first infographic is from those good people at PintofScience Belgium who have collated on one infographic a range of initiatives in Brussels supporting efforts to combat COVID-19 that you can volunteer with or donate to. You can download a hi-res version here which has clickable links.


    The second infographic is from Compound Interest and gives you some useful information on how current and future tests for COVID-19 work and related issues.


    Happy Easter!

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 9 Apr 2020 1:08 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday 9 April 2020.


    Sciensano COVID-19 update of 9 April. 1,580 new confirmed cases have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 149 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 24,983 confirmed cases have been reported with 2,664 (11%) in Brussels. 459 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalized in the past 24 hours and 483 people discharged. Between 15 March and 8 April 9,894 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital and 5,164 people were discharged. 283 new deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours. At the close of this report, a total of 2,523 deaths have been notified of which 410 (16.2%) were in Brussels. Full report here.

    The National Security Council will meet next week to decide whether containment measures will be extended until May 3.

    Belgian WHO Europe Director Kluge described the situation in Europe as 'very worrying' and emphasised that the positive developments in some countries do not mean that the virus has been defeated. "It would be dangerous to think we are approaching the end," said Kluge.

    Interior Minister Pieter De Crem says police may in some cases enter a home to stop a lockdown party.

    Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders have asked for help from the army in residential care centres. Since Tuesday, Belgian army medical personnel have been present in a residential care centres in Jette.

    The intensive care units in the Belgian hospitals still have enough beds, but are not yet ready for a new influx of corona patients should containment measures be weakened.

    Hydroxychloroquine is already being given to some patients. It has been shown in the laboratory that it has an anti-inflammatory action and that it reduces the production of viruses. “We have done this empirically in crisis times, counting on the fact that even if there is no benefit for the patient, that person’s viral load was going to decrease, which also helped to protect the nursing staff," Erasme Hospital doctor Jean-Christophe Goffard said.

    Municipality of Saint-Josse plans to distribute reusable masks to residents.

    Disinfectant gel production capacity has increased by one million litres with the help of the Belgian chemical, pharmaceutical and food companies.

    The Brussels regional government has decided to grant a single bonus of EUR 4000 for establishments forced to close. Other measures are under consideration.

    The European Commission wants to keep the external borders of the European Union closed for longer to curb the spread of the corona virus. It proposes to extend the ban on non-essential travel to the EU until May 15.

    Prisoners in Belgium have already produced 27,350 masks since the outbreak of the new coronavirus. 17,500 of these masks were intended for the penitentiary institutions themselves. In addition, 6,500 masks were handed over to care organisation Child and Family, 1,000 to the Immigration Office, 3,500 to the courts, 2,000 to the FPS Finance and the European Parliament also placed an order.

    In the frozen food department in supermarkets, fries, croquettes and duchess potatoes are wildly successful. Sales of fresh potatoes also increased dramatically during containment. It is therefore undeniable: the potato remains staple food for the Belgian consumer.

    The interchange between the E40 and the R0 from Louvain to Woluwe-Saint-Etienne on the Brussels ring will be closed on weekdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for three weeks from April 13.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 8 Apr 2020 12:14 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday 8 April 2020.


    On Wednesday 8 April, Belgium had 23,403 known cases of coronavirus - an increase of 1,209 in the past day (548 in Wallonia, 544 in Flanders, 101 in Brussels and 16 unknown). There are 5,688 people currently in hospital - a decrease of more than 300 in the past day. Among those in hospital, 1,276 are in intensive care. Over the past 24 hours, 487 patients have been admitted to hospital and 524 discharged. Since the outbreak began, 2,240 people have died - an increase of 205 in the past day. Some 4,681 people have made a full recovery from coronavirus since the outbreak began.

    The number of reported deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium may make some significant leaps in the coming days. In its daily report on Tuesday, Sciensano, the federal research centre, points out that 'a significant number of deaths in residential care centres in Flanders' before 1 April were not included in the data. These are now being added systematically from 6 April. Deaths in residential care centres in Brussels and Wallonia are already recorded in the data.

    “If the [current] trend continues for the rest of the week, we will be over the peak,” virologist Marc Van Ranst is cautiously positive about the most recent figures. The number of hospital admissions has been falling for several days. Van Ranst does not want to confirm this with certainty, although he is hopeful.

    Inhabitants of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert are being encouraged to wear masks on the street.

    1.25 million people are currently in the system of temporary unemployment in Belgium. That is a record number – amounting to almost one-third of the total number of active workers and employees.

    Supermarkets Lidl and Colruyt reach agreement on corona compensations, Lidl staff receives additional holidays, Colruyt’s extra leave, premiums and compensation in the form of meal vouchers.

    Limburg postpones provincial taxes for families and companies.

    Given the reduced car traffic on the Brussels roads following the containment measures, Bruxelles Mobilité is making adaptations to the traffic lights, in order to allow cyclists and pedestrians to wait less at certain crossroads.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 7 Apr 2020 11:07 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Tuesday 7 April 2020.


    A proposed strike at Bruxelles Propreté is not expected to have significant impact on regular household waste collections. However, there will be no collections of yellow or blue recycling bags this week - you should keep them in your home if possible. If this isn't possible, they can be collected at the same time as regular household waste (white bags). The blue and yellow rounds have been cancelled to ensure available staff can focus on white, green and orange bags (household, garden and food waste).

    Last week Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced the creation of a new expert group to deal with the gradual relaxation of COVID-19 measures. The group will consist of ten experts, including Marc van Ranst (KU Leuven) and Pierre Wunsh (Governor National Bank). Virologist Erika Vlieghe will chair the group.

    Thanks to the new Flemish 'Help the helpers' platform, healthcare institutions can now search for volunteers in a fast and targeted manner. Both healthcare institutions and volunteers, with and without a medical background, can register directly on the website. 

    A possible drug against COVID-19 might be available and cheap: blood plasma. From 15 April, the Red Cross will collect plasma from cured corona patients, which they will then make available for scientific research. All confirmed male patients with COVID-19 can register through an online tool.

    Banks are increasing the limits for contactless payments soon to EUR 50, reports banking federation Febelfin.

    Brussels Airlines will keep its aircraft on the ground until 15 May.

    Interior Minister Pieter De Crem announced that the National Security Council (CNS) will soon confirm the cancellation of major summer festivals, including Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter. Brussels festivals Couleur Café and the Brussels Summer Festival have no plans to cancel as yet.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 6 Apr 2020 12:00 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday 6 April 2020.


    Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has asked Belgian residents to continue their efforts. “Experts agree that the measures we have taken have an impact on the evolution of the spread of the disease.”

    The testing capacity in Belgium can be increased to 10,000 tests per day, reports Minister Philippe De Backer, who heads the testing taskforce.

    Steven Van Gucht, chairman of the Scientific Corona Committee, says it is “encouraging that the number of new recordings is stabilising. There is hope that the number of new admissions will decrease further this week. More than 1,000 beds are available in intensive care, I think we can handle this."

    The University of Liège (ULiège) has developed an automated test for the detection of the new coronavirus. The test means that 2,000 extra tests can be performed daily in Liège. ULiège becomes one of the five detection reference centres, alongside GSK, UCB, Janssen Pharmaceutica and KU Leuven.

    According to Test-Achats, the prices in the supermarkets have risen during the corona crisis. The prices rose especially at Carrefour Hyper (+ 5%) and Colruyt (+ 6.6%).

    On Friday, 3 April, Belgium authorities announced that entry and exit checks have been reintroduced in order to prevent people from taking part in non-essential travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry of the Interior has announced that all travellers to Belgium will be expected to carry a Belgium ID card or a letter from their employer to prove that their travel is essential. Individuals attempting to travel for non-essential purposes will be denied entry.

    The Flemish Family Association and its French-language counterpart Ligue des Familles want parents for whom the combination of work and children becomes unsustainable to be able to apply for exceptional leave. 'We ask for a solution in the form of temporary leave for parents of children under 12 or children with special care needs. This leave could take the form of extra, more flexible and better paid parental leave, or a specific benefit from health insurance, such as in France and Luxembourg. "

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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