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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 -----------

  • 3 Apr 2020 11:38 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday 3 April 2020.

    Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced that: “a high-level group will be formed to prepare for gradual ‘deconfinement’ with a "gradual" reopening of public life over several months. "We have to start working on a scenario now," she said. "This committee will be chaired by a person from the scientific world, because health will always come first."

    Belgium is making EUR 5 million available for the development of a vaccine against the corona virus, said Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo.

    Virologist Steven Van Gucht referred to the high demand for mouth masks: "Our advice remains the same: keep your distance, wash your hands with soap and water. Masks add little to that. They do make sense for people who cannot keep a distance, and I refer to our caregivers.”

    Brussels Iris network hospitals have reached 90% of its capacity for intensive care.

    Brussels Airlines needs a substantial cash injection. The company originally requested EUR 200 million at the start of the corona crisis, but that has been overtaken by events being based on the assumption that the crisis would end in April and that air traffic would resume swiftly. A group of experts tasked with rescuing large Belgian companies as a result of the corona crisis is urgently considering Brussels Airlines. Renationalisation of the airline is also on the table.

    Buses, trains and trams are virtually empty in Belgium: on the railways barely 5% of seats are occupied. The number of travellers on De Lijn has also plummeted with an occupancy rate of about 10%. The Brussels STIB transport company sees slightly more travellers on its buses, trams and metros with an occupancy rate of about 15%.

    Six out of ten French-speaking entrepreneurs have completely ceased their activities following the containment measures, according to the quarterly barometer of the Union of the middle classes (UCM) carried out at the end of March among 3,600 freelancers and SME managers.

    And finally, some lighter news, 60 Belgian artists have (re)covered “We Are the World” in tribute to nursing and medical staff.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 2 Apr 2020 11:25 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Calling all quizzers! As many of you know, UNICEF Belgium holds a regular and highly successful Quiz Evening to raise funds for the charity. However, due to the COVID–19 pandemic, these evenings are suspended and it is not clear when they will be resumed.

    So to help keep us all amused and to raise some funds for UNICEF during this hiatus, quiz supremo Stuart Cummings has compiled a 20-question anagram quiz based on one-word film titles. Some lateral thinking will be necessary!

    How to pay

    To participate in the quiz a minimum EUR 5 entry fee is requested (more would be wonderful) that will be used to support UNICEF activities at this difficult time.

    Entry fee is by bank transfer to either:

    Stuart Cummings, BE18 3100 3358 9065, BIC BBRUBEBB who will collate the entry fees received and make a one-time payment to UNICEF or,

    Direct to UNICEF BE83 3630 2680 8315, BIC BBRUBEBB

    When making a transfer, please include your name (as entered on your answer sheet) and the reference UNICEF QUIZ APRIL

    How to play

    You can down load the Quiz sheet here: 

    UNICEF Anagrams of One-word Film Titles.docx

    The quiz comprises 20 one-word film titles and the number of letters in the answer is indicated in bold. The two subsequent clues need to be solved correctly to give the letters that make up the anagram. The number in parentheses after each clue indicates the number of letters corresponding to the clue.

    On the question and answer sheet, please indicate your name, nickname (optional) and email address to enable tracking and reporting back to all participants.

    Completed entries should be emailed to the following UNICEF address that has been set up specifically for the quiz - UNICEFquiz@gmail.com - to arrive no later than midnight CEST on 19 April. Even if you are unable to answer all of the questions, please submit your entry and make a donation!

    In the event that two or more players are tied on the number of correct anagram answers, the tie-break question will come into play. For the tie-break question you are asked to estimate the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the USA at midnight CEST on 24 April. Data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) website will be used for the tie-break.

    All answers will be provided and the winner will be announced on 25 April. As well as receiving the accolade of “Film Title Anagram Quiz Champion”, the winner will also receive four bottles of Petit Pas Saint Emilion Grand Cru donated by Stuart!

    We hope you will enjoy the quiz and be generous in donating to the UNICEF cause.

  • 2 Apr 2020 10:38 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday 2 April.

    Nearly 5,000 people are currently hospitalised in Belgium for coronavirus-related care, of whom one-fifth are in intensive care. The number of hospitalised patients is growing less quickly than last week according to Le Soir.

    From 1 April GPs can make free use of "Remote Care", a video consultation service of the Christian “Mutuality”. This will allow doctors to "safely consult and forward certificates".

    To avoid a shortage of drugs, the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products has announced that each hospital with intensive care capacity has received a strategic stock of hydroxychloroquine, Kaletra, a drug based on lopinavir and ritonavir, and Rocuronium, a derivative of a type of curare, used as muscle relaxant for people in intensive care.

    More than EUR 4 million has been raised so far for the appeal by CHU Saint-Pierre. A link to the appeal can be found here

    TUI has cancelled all trips up to and including 10 May and the KLM-owned airline Transavia is cancelling all flights from Brussels until March 2021.

    The Police Unions are threatening to strike from April 12 to 19 in a dispute about the lack of provision of face masks and other protective equipment.

    The European Parliament has offered the Brussels regional authorities the use of its building in the Square de Meeûs and some 100 service cars and trucks, with drivers to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Useful links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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

    There are four ways to destroy the #coronavirus :

    1. #WashYourHands

    2. Hand sanitiser

    3. Bleach

    4. Hydrogen peroxide

    But how do they work? Here's how.

  • 1 Apr 2020 10:12 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Some recent announcements from the Belgian government(s).

    There will be "No additional hospital fees for patients with coronavirus" says Federal Health minister Maggie De Block.

    The situation in 146 nursing and care homes within the Brussels Region is improving, with a drop in the number of residents hospitalised and the number of deaths due to the new coronavirus, announced the regional Minister of Action Social and Health, Alain Maron.

    Wallonia wants to produce mouth masks before the end of May, the Walloon government has announced. To this end, it has partnered with the international company Deltrian, which has a branch in Fleurus and which specialises in the production of air filters.

    The problem of disinfectant gels has been solved, says Minister Philippe De Backer who is responsible for the supply of equipment intended to fight the coronavirus.

    Brussels mental health professionals have set up a helpline to listen to residents' worries and point them in the direction of further help. The number is 025 01 01 27, or visit this website

    Remember, up to date information on the COVID-19 crisis can be found on the dedicated Federal COVID-19 website.

  • 31 Mar 2020 11:32 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Belgian news snippets for Tuesday 31 March.

    Concern is growing for the agriculture sector. Even though people are allowed to cross the border for work (with the permission of their employer or a vignette), in practice, few seasonal workers are finding their way to the fields. "If nothing changes, we will reap nothing this year." A farmer’s union has called for temporary unemployed people to be employed in the fields.

    Stores specialising in items for babies and toddlers have been added to the list of essential stores.

    The free federal government telephone line 0800 14 689 to answer questions from the public about the coronavirus has already received 150 000 calls. The information line is also available by email at info-coronavirus@health.fgov.be.

    Proximus has extended free calls to fixed lines and unlimited fixed internet.

    Bruxelles Propreté: blue and yellow bags will not be collected for three days.

    The animal rights association Gaia has launched a free number 0800 53 335 to receive calls and questions about the welfare of pets during the COVID19 confinement. 
  • 30 Mar 2020 11:05 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    FYI Consumer protection body Test Achats has set up an online platform to specifically address COVID-19 related scams and fraud attempts. The group is also monitoring price increases for a range of medical supplies.

    Find out more on the Test Achats website

  • 30 Mar 2020 11:44 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    As the COVID-19 lockdown in Belgium continues some news snippets on travel issues.

    About 20,000 Belgians are still stuck abroad. In recent days, Belgians have returned from Mali, Vietnam, the Philippines and Haiti. Travellers from Asia will be able to return home this week.

    The socialist railway union has asked SNCB to temporarily close all counters. 

    Thalys will adjust its offer from Tuesday with only one return trip between Paris and Brussels, and one between Brussels and Amsterdam. The number of available places will also be limited to keep sufficient space between travellers. ICE and Eurostar have already adapted their schedules.

    The STIB service in Brussels will be reserved for essential trips only during the weekend. 

    UK shipping company P&O Ferries is no longer carring passengers on the Zeebrugge-Hull and Calais-Dover lines as it now wants to focus on maintaining freight flows between the British Isles and the European continent.

    Finally, at Brussels Airport passengers flying in from Italy, Spain and Greece will be closely monitored on arrival. 

  • 27 Mar 2020 7:46 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    #COVID19 LOCKDOWN UPDATE: The #StayHome period in Belgium is to be extended by a fortnight to 19 April, and could be extended again until 3 May.

    Bon weekend from all at BBCA! For more information on the #COVID19 situation in Belgium, updated every day, visit The Bulletin's dedicated webpage.

  • 26 Mar 2020 12:14 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Sciensano, a Belgian scientific organisation working on human and animal health, publishes a daily briefing on the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic at regional, national and international levels. Publication is usually around noon.

    You can access the latest briefing here (in French. Dutch also available).

    The above images shows data on the current distribution of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Belgium (left) and the number of confirmed cases by region (right). The later image uses the date of the diagnosis where possible and therefore the there may be a delay in finalising more recent daily numbers. The data is from the Sciensano report of 26 March 2020.

    A more granular view of the distribution of cases is given above at commune level.

    Although progress is being made in containing the spread of the disease within Belgium, clearly there is still much to be done. And internationally the virus is continuing to spread. The Federal Government's National Security Council meets on Friday to consider if the lock-down should be extended beyond 5 April.

    Keep up to date with developments by bookmarking The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage for the latest news and information.

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