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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 -----------

  • 29 Apr 2020 2:27 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday, 29 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 29 April. 525 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 75 (14%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 47 859 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 907 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 174 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 340 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 28 April, a total of 14 061 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 11 283 people have left.

    170 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (7%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 501 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 149 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.


    Recruitment of contact tracers in Flanders has been delayed and won’t be able to start on Monday 4 May. Flemish Minister of Health Wouter Beke wants to engage an external consultant for the recruitment and logistics of the project but there are problems with the public tender.

    According to Philippe De Backer, around 15,000 PCR tests are now carried out every day in Belgium - comparatively more tests than neighbouring countries.

    The Brussels government has released an additional EUR 22.5 million to support crisis measures in the welfare and health sector. Of this amount, EUR 10 million goes to the implementation of 'contact tracing' and EUR 8 million to protective material for primary care.

    More flexible rules will be introduced for sickness benefits for the self-employed, says Minister of Health Maggie De Block.

    Epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme repeats that mouth masks are used to not infect other people. "Cotton masks block sixty to seventy percent of all transmission."

    The phases of the exit strategy have been outlined, but many things are subject to conditions. For example, the occupation of intensive care [beds] should drop to five hundred patients, says virologist Marc Van Ranst.

    Reports of child abuse have doubled or even tripled at Child Focus since the start of the confinement Figures from the federal police show an increase by 30%.

    Non-urgent interventions in hospitals will be resumed from Monday 4 May.

    A new rapid test from Liège company ZenTech has been validated by the Federal Medicines Agency and can now be comercialised in Belgium.

    In Belgium, more women are infected with the coronavirus than men, according to the latest figures from Public Health Institute Sciensano. Statistics also show that more men die than women. Women are genetically better equipped to resist most infectious diseases, explained the inter-federal spokesperson Covid-19 Yves Van Laethem.

    The National Bank of Belgium will release figures of the first quarter later today.

    Flemish employers' organisation (Voka) requests more clarity on the restart on Monday. No ministerial decree has yet been issued. Voka also calls for extending, from next week, childcare procedures to all parents who must return to their workplace.

    Employees expect concrete information on the future of their work, the financial health of their organisation and the measures to be adopted after the crisis, yet a clear majority of workers is ill-informed about compensation in the event of telework.

    Brussels government will build 40 km of new cycle paths to avoid too many people taking public transport.

    The city of Leuven is considering a one-way street for pedestrians!

    Coastal communes will continue their discussions today on how to organise tourism at the Belgian coast.

    Coronavirus caused a peak in employee absenteeism in March: there were 70% more employees at home due to illness compared to February, according to a survey of HR services company Acerta at 32,000 companies.

    Research by University of Gent shows that only 55.4% of Belgians now support corona measures compared to 80.7% at the start of the lockdown.

    Belgian bishops want gradual resumption of church services.

    The Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren estimates its losses due to the coronavirus at EUR 1 million.

    In March, less fully compensated unemployment was recorded, but there was a record number of temporary unemployed.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Tuesday, 28 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 28 April. 647 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 117 (18%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 47 334 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 832 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 123 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 65 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 27 April, a total of 14 887 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 10 943 people have left.

    134 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 16 (12%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 331 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 137 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.


    The Government may not be able to deliver enough mouth masks on time for the first start-up phase. Instead, between 4 and 20 May, every citizen will receive two filters for a mouth mask in their letterbox. The government entrusted the companies Sioen and Deltrian with the task of producing 20 million filters which will be used to improve the quality of the fabric masks which will have to be worn on public transport from 4 May.

    It looks like the current Wilmès government will not be able to continue after June. The French-speaking socialists of the PS will not ask for an extension of the special powers, unless the health crisis flares up again. The French-speaking liberal party MR also regrets the positions expressed over the past few days with regard to the special powers and the trust granted to the federal government.

    It is uncertain whether the introduction of a "corona leave" for working parents with young children can start on 1 May. The text of the decision is ready, according to the Muylle cabinet, but it still has to get clearance from the federal government.

    "Until May 4, it is essential that everyone stays at home". The start of ‘deconfinement’ is approaching, but the epidemic is not over, says Steven Van Gucht.

    From 4 May it will be possible to go to a general practitioner (GP) again, most likely by appointment and following strict distancing measures.

    Most physiotherapists are ready to resume service from 4 May, their professional association Axxon said.

    The mental health sector will start psychiatric treatment again as soon as possible from 4 May. Three out of five treatments were discontinued during the confinement.

    Etterbeek commune has made the decision to distribute two reusable masks per inhabitant.

    Gradual resumption of economic activities is now envisaged, and with it, the fear of many workers of the return to work, and of the conditions under which this will take place. A "right of withdrawal" for employees exists in Belgian law. This is an individual right for all workers to leave their job in case of "grave and imminent danger" - without the risk of being dismissed. The legal position is detailed in a note by the University ULB. It has never been used in Belgium to date.

    18% of Belgian workers fear losing their jobs due to the crisis. This is the result of the 11th annual barometer from the Acerta human resources services group.

    Belgium has opted for a call centre rather than a tracing app. 2000 people should be recruited in the coming days. It will be difficult to recruit them on time. “Mutualities” (health insurers) might step in as they have professional structures that are trained to work in the use of confidential medical records.

    TUI Belgium has cancelled all holidays and flights until 7 June at least. Foreign travel may not be allowed again until 8 June at the earliest.

    On 4 May, De Lijn will largely resume its normal timetable. And on STIB/ MIVB the capacity of trams, buses and metros will be gradually revised upwards from 4 May.

    Parents are bringing their children to childcare nurseries more often, as they find it too difficult to combine raising kids with telework. Since last week, the Partena health insurance fund has noticed an increase since the start of the lockdown, with numbers going back to 40 – 45% of normal occupancy.

    The Spa 24 Hours race will take place on 24-25 October. The race was originally scheduled for 25-26 July.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 27 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 27 April. 553 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 77 (14%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 46 687 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 715 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 127 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 93 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 26 April, a total of 14 764 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 10 878 people have left.

    113 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 207 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 129 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    A summary of the National Security Council measures announced on 24 April. You can access an English translation of the full government press statement here.

    "May 4 is a starting moment," said Prime Minister Wilmès. "There is absolutely no certainty that the stores will open on May 11. Everything we have decided is conditional. That is the whole philosophy of the approach. Everything depends on the further spread of the virus."

    From 4 May:

    • A mouth mask is recommended in public places.
    • A mouth mask or equivalent is mandatory on public transport for everyone over the age of 12.
    • Industries and B2B services can resume.
    • Fabric and yarn stores can reopen in order for people to make their own masks.
    • General and specialised health care will be gradually and safely expanded
    • Two people (previously one) or a family can do outdoor sports with respect for the safe distance (but changing rooms, canteens, etc. must remain closed). Outdoor activities must be active, you can’t remain static (sit on a bench or sunbathe in the parks for example)
    • Working from home should remain the norm.

    From 11 May:

    • All shops might be allowed to reopen (but not restaurants, cafes and hairdressers)

    From 18 May:

    • Gradual and partial opening of primary and secondary schools with priority given to diploma years, such as 6th primary and 6th secondary, in smaller classes of maximum 10 students. The wearing of cloth masks will be compulsory for teachers and students (over 12) all day long (there would be a test day on 15 May for schools that wish it).

    The further the date, the less certain these measures become and are highly dependent on how the disease evolves. Amongst measures still to be discussed are:

    • Possibility of small private meetings at home.
    • The opening of museums could be considered, subject to conditions (some museums – see below - are planning for reopening on 18 May).
    • For contact professions (such as hairdressers), the situation will be examined
    • You may be allowed to exercise in the open air with more than two people who do not live under your roof
    • For group sports, outdoor training will be allowed again if

    o It is an approved sports club

    o A trainer is present

    o Social distancing is respected

    • Day trips within Belgium might be possible in this phase.
    • People with a second residence could visit their homes for a day trip.

    From 8 June at the earliest (and very uncertain):

    • Cafés, restaurants might be able to open again step by step under strict conditions
    • Youth summer camps (this will be discussed end of May)

    Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès stated that every Belgian will receive at least one cloth mouth mask from the government. The government has ordered 12 million cloth masks. Local authorities are also busy, said Philippe De Backer. The use of mouth masks will be mandatory on public transport from May 4, but by then it will not be possible to deliver a fabric mouth mask to everyone, said Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens.

    Some 10 000 coronavirus screening tests were carried out each day last week in Belgium, said the cabinet of Minister Philippe De Backer. In the meantime, more than 110 000 complete testing kits have been sent to communities. 90 000 tests have already been taken and registered: almost 9 out of 10 tests were negative. In the coming weeks, the testing capacity will be further increased, it must exceed 20 000 by next week and will then be increased to more than 25 000 tests per day.

    “The extended Easter weekend of two weeks ago has not led to a significant increase in the number of infections,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht. However, he warns that the number of deaths will continue to increase in the coming months.

    For measures to be softened from 4 May, hospital admissions should drop from 200 to 100, says virologist Marc Van Ranst, patients on intensive care should not be more than 450 says virologist Steven Van Gucht.

    Some 4.3% of the Belgian population has developed antibodies against the new coronavirus, reports Sciensano.

    Red Cross calls for blood donations as hospitals will gradually resume activities early May. "If blood supplies were good three weeks ago, they have declined sharply since then," said spokesperson Thomas Paulus.

    Markets and market vendors will certainly not be able to resume on 11 May. "We do not know where we stand and when we can resume our activities," said Rudi De Wilde, chairman of their national association.

    "At this stage", Brussels Airlines still plans to resume flights on 15 May, said a spokeswoman for the airline. A final decision will be made soon.

    SNCB and Infrabel are committed to resuming train services "almost completely" from Monday 4 May.

    The municipalities on the Belgian coast will work together to better manage the influx of tourists, expected from 18 May and this summer, while respecting the measures intended to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

    The Léopold II tunnel in Brussels is closed from 22h00 on Sunday in both directions. For the moment, the renovation works will continue day and night because there is now less traffic in the capital. The construction and renovation works are scheduled to take 4 months.

    More than 60 000 police reports relating to breaking the confinement rules have been drawn up since the start of the lockdown. The total amount of settlements (aka issued fines) for offenses now amounts to EUR 2.2 million. The College of Prosecutors wants the unpaid fines to be recovered via taxes.

    Museums are considering partial reopening from 18 May as feasible. The sector had already put that date forward in its own exit strategy developed behind the scenes.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 25 Apr 2020 1:36 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes' press release of 24 April 2020

    On the basis of an opinion from the Group of Experts in charge of the Exit Strategy (GEES), the National Security Council met this Friday 24 April at the Palais d'Egmont to define the deconfinement strategy for Belgium out of the COVID-19 crisis. As a reminder, the federal government and the federated entities have taken a series of measures together since 12 March to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our country. Encouraging indicators - such as the decrease in the number of daily hospitalisations and the flattening of rate of deaths linked to the virus - allow us today to envisage a gradual deconfinement. The authorities nevertheless insist on the fact that the virus is still present in our territory and remains a danger to the population.

    Strict containment measures will be maintained until at least Sunday 3 May. Then, Belgium can start its deconfinement process, if conditions at the time allow.

    For the avoidance of doubt, any existing measure that is not explicitly removed is retained.


    Rules that will remain in effect

    It is important to emphasize that certain rules will remain in force, regardless of the phase of deconfinement outlined below. These are:

    • Limiting contact between people
    • Respect for safety social distancing
    • Good hygiene habits, also called "barrier gestures".

    Cover your mouth and nose

    Covering your mouth and nose will be part of good practice during the deconfinement process. This can be done using a mask or other alternative protection (such as a scarf or bandana). This practice will be:

    • Highly recommended in public spaces
    • Mandatory in public transport for all users aged 12 and over. This measure will come into effect on 4 May.

    This practice does not replace, but is in addition to, respecting safe social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures (wash your hands etc.)

    The federal government and the federated entities are working together to provide each citizen with at least one standard fabric protection mask or equivalent. Various initiatives are supporting this goal. The authorities also wish to distribute two "filters" to each citizen for use with the masks. Surgical masks and FFP2 equipment should remain reserved for healthcare professionals, nursing homes, communities and security services only.

    In the world of work, the employer - including the public - will have to provide workers with means of protection, as required.

    Please note, the authorities point out that in general, covering your mouth and nose is not sufficient protection alone, you must continue to respect safety distances and hygiene measures.

    The use of public transport

    The gradual deconfinement inevitably will lead to an increase in the use of public transport. In order to avoid crowd effects, it is advisable to:

    • If you can, get around on your own (walk, bike, car, etc.) to give priority to people who need public transportation the most
    • Avoid rush hour, if possible.

    The Deconfinement strategy

    All of the following dates are subject to change depending on the general health situation and the evolution of the virus.

    1. Phase 1 - a (4 May, estimated)

    For industries and B2B services

    Telework should remain the norm. It will be possible to overcome issues in respecting safe social distancing in a company through compliance with a series of health recommendations, including the wearing of a mask. With regard to the organization of work, the Group of Ten has adopted a general guide to good practice, which will serve as the basis for sectoral or company agreements to be concluded. It will thus be a benchmark for a gradual economic recovery under healthy and safe conditions for all.

    For shops and restaurants

    The rules do not change, with the exception of fabric stores and haberdasheries that may reopen, given the important role they will play in relation to protections/ masks covering the nose and mouth.

    In terms of health

    In recent weeks, the epidemic has had a major impact on care services, both in primary care and hospitals. Working groups are already studying how to meet both the need to continue to provide the best care for people infected with COVID-19 while gradually and securely expanding access to general and specialized health care. The aim is that, as quickly as possible, everyone can have access to health care in a "normal" way again while avoiding saturating the medical infrastructures necessary for the care of patients with the virus.

    At the level of daily life

    Outdoor physical activity will be allowed with a maximum of two people, in addition to those living under the same roof, provided that safe social distancing is always respected. Other sports activities will also be permitted in the open air but without contact. If these activities require infrastructure, the fact remains that access to changing rooms and shared showers, as well as cafeterias, remains prohibited.

    2. Phase 1 - b (11 May, estimated)

    For shops

    This phase will make it possible to reopen all businesses, at the same time, without discrimination to size and sector, giving everyone the same chance of success. This reopening will be determined by the prevailing conditions. These will be defined in consultation with business sectors and social partners. They will be of three types:

    • Work organization
    • Client reception
    • Limiting access to shops to avoid crowds. Professions involving close physical contact will remain closed

    At the level of daily life

    We will also clarify the future of short-term sports competitions at this point.

    3. Phase 2 (18 May, estimated)

    For shops

    We will consider if and under what conditions professions involving physical contact (such as hairdressers) can reopen.

    At the level of culture

    The opening of museums could be envisaged at this point, also under certain conditions. For example, through the development of a contactless ticketing system.

    At the level of daily life

    For team sports, outdoor physical training will be allowed in recognized clubs only, and subject to compliance with specific guidelines.

    Schools

    The resumption of classes will be very gradual, with a reopening on 18 May. Not all students will return at once. Each language community will be responsible for developing, in consultation with the sector, the implementation of this decision.

    Certain other initiatives will also be examined at this point:

    • The possibility of allowing private (social) meetings at home
    • Allowing more people to attend weddings and funerals
    • Allowing more than two people to practice an outdoor activity
    • The possibility of organizing day trips to certain regions of the country or travel to a second residence (in Belgium).

    4. Phase 3 (no earlier than 8 June, estimated)

    Several points will have to be considered at this point:

    • The terms of possible and gradual reopening of restaurants; and then cafes and bars. This must be done, in any event, under strict conditions.
    • The various summer activities such as trips abroad, youth movement camps (a decision should be made on this by the end of May), internships, tourist attractions but also smaller outdoor events.

    The only certainty is that mass festival-type events will not be allowed until 31 August at the earliest.

    Conditions for success

    To ensure deconfinement in the best possible conditions, testing and tracing will play a major role.

    As far as screening is concerned, the objective is to be able to offer a laboratory test to all the people who need it, that is to say those who present symptoms and for whom a doctor suspects an infection, people highly exposed to the virus by their profession and people exposed to the virus after close contact with an infected person.

    The capacity of our laboratories will reach 25 000 PCR tests per day by 4 May, and this capacity will be expandable to 45 000. In order to provide support for carrying out the tests, public and private laboratories as well as the federal platform are fully mobilized.

    Regarding the supply of medical equipment, deliveries continue, and Belgium has a sufficient stock of purchased equipment.

    For tracing, a coordinated strategy between regions and communities will be implemented, with the support of federal experts.

    You can view the presentation (in French and Dutch) made by the National Security Council on 24 April here.

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

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday, 24 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 24 April. 1 496 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 106 (7%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 44 293 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 451 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 210 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 322 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 23 April, a total of 14 218 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 10 122 people have left.

    190 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 46 (24%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 6 679 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 060 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    At 14h30 this afternoon, the National Security Council meets to discuss the next steps. The outcome of the meeting is usually announced around 19h00.

    The European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) has called on European countries to exercise caution in easing measures against the corona virus.

    Minister of Work and Economy Nathalie Muylle has proposed half-time “corona leave” for parents at a monthly compensation of EUR 350 per parent. The option to take additional parental leave during the corona crisis is extended from single parents to all parents with at least one child under the age of 12.

    Minister-President of Brussels Region Rudi Vervoort said: "Wearing a mask will not be compulsory in public space in Brussels."

    Seven Brussels communes have now decided to give more space to pedestrians and cyclists: Ixelles, Anderlecht, Brussels city, Watermael, Evere, Schaerbeek and Saint-Gilles.

    Crèches and preschool nurseries have been recognised as essential by the government. They have not had to close and continue to take in children. But currently, fewer children come to their centres leading to a drop in their income. The government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation has decided to increase its Emergency Fund by almost EUR 3.7 million euros in their favour.

    "We should not relax the measures today or tomorrow. We are looking at what could be possible from mid-May and we need that time to bring the epidemic down even more," says virologist Marc Van Ranst.

    "We must be mentally prepared to go to a second lockdown," said virologist Steven Van Gucht about the winter period.

    The majority of companies are ready to organise their work in an appropriate way, but they expect clarity, according to the Federation of Belgian Enterprises.

    One in six freelancers risks bankruptcy or cessation of their activities due to the coronavirus crisis, estimates their union SNI.

    Real estate transactions have decrease by 33%, but prices remain stable.

    The City of Brussels has invited its citizens to register online to receive vegetables, flowers and salad seeds plus compost to create “kitchen gardens” during the confinement.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 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)

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