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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 -----------

  • 22 Jun 2020 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It is confirmed. All Belgian residents aged 12 and over will be entitled to a free 12-journey SNCB rail pass.


    The "National Tour" pass entitles the named user to 12 free second-class journeys that can be claimed at a rate of two per month, from August to January (a return trip counts as two journeys). But the pass cannot be used during weekends in August and will not be accepted on trains before 9.00 on weekdays. Online registration for the pass should be available by the beginning of August and the passes themselves by the middle of the month.

    New coronavirus stats for Belgium are no longer being published daily. Sciensano will now only release figures from Tuesday to Saturday with the Tuesday update including data for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

    A second school in Schaerbeek has temporarily closed after two children tested positive for coronavirus. The Dutch-speaking municipal school plans to reopen on Wednesday. Pupils in the affected classes will not return to school until September. Last week, a nearby French-speaking school was temporarily closed.

    About one in 10 workers in Belgium continue to telework.

    Seven out of 10 people in Belgium are prepared to comply with a second stay-at-home order, if necessary, according to survey. Only 19% of respondents opposed the idea.

    Sciensano statistics update of 20 June (Saturday). 74 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 18 (14%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 60 550 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 6 256 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 20 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 42 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 19 June, a total of 17 620 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 16 771 people have left. Currently 50 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Only 2 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which none were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 696 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 475 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 11 Jun 2020 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The third UNICEF Lockdown Quiz has been announced! The two previous 'Lockdown’ quizzes have already raised over EUR 4000 for the international development charity's activities.


    The third UNICEF ‘Lockdown’ Anagram Quiz has been tweaked to tone down the questions and, hopefully, raise the number of high scoring entries, and avoid too much brain ache for participants.

    This time all the answers are the surnames of well-known world political leaders from the 20th and 21st centuries. As before, the number of letters corresponding to each clue are in parentheses and the number in bold represents the total number of letters in the leader’s name.

    Answers must be received no later than midnight (CEST) on Friday 19 June and the winners will be announced on the evening of Saturday 20 June once the tie-break answer is known.

    For the tie-break question this month, a sporting question has been selected: specifically a horse racing question. For the tie-break you must estimate the winning time for the Queen Alexandra Stakes that is running at 16.40pm (BST) on the 20th at Royal Ascot. Don’t worry if you know nothing about horse racing, all you need to do is estimate the winning time and, FYI, over the last 20 years this has been between 4 minutes and 45.2seconds and 5 minutes and 4.1sec. A spreadsheet with all winning times in this period can be accessed here.

    The winner and ‘Political Leaders Anagram Quiz Champion’ will be the person who has the highest quiz score and whose tie-break answer (if applicable) is closest to the actual winning time.

    The winner will receive three bottles of Petit Pas Saint Emilion Grand Cru. There will also be a prize of a bottle of champagne for the person who does not achieve the highest quiz score but whose tie-break answer is closest to the actual winning time.

    To participate download the quiz sheet here and please email your answers to unicefquiz@gmail.com to arrive no later than midnight CEST on Friday 19 June.

    The suggested entry fee is between EUR 5 and 10 to be paid directly to the Ex-Pats for UNICEF account: BE83 3630 2680 8315.

    Even if you choose not to participate in the quiz, you may wish to make a donation which would be much appreciated.

    As before, money raised by UNICEF in Belgium this year will go to support the WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) project in Rwanda.

    Please feel free to distribute widely to your quiz teammates, friends and colleagues

    With many thanks for your continued support in these difficult times.

  • 10 Jun 2020 3:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday 10 June 2020 – Beach ready?

    Belgium's seaside resorts are investing in a network of 250 "smart cameras" to track of numbers on the beaches this summer. This will allow the municipalities to better anticipate potential overcrowding problems and manage the flow of people to the sands.


    Motorhome suppliers are have seen a significant peak in demand from consumers. According to an Ivox survey for the Belgian Association of Caravans and Motorhomes, two-thirds of Belgians think a motorhome will be their safest way of getting around during the summer holidays.

    Doctors report a 60% spike in consultations since the stay-at-home restrictions were gradually lifted.

    Since last week, it is possible to ask your doctor to prescribe an antibody test, costing €9.60, to find out whether you have come into contact with the virus. According to an early batch of results only 5-10% of the serological tests came back positive indicating contact with the virus.

    Sanctions for parents who do not bring their children to school will resume in September, Wallonia-Brussels education minister Caroline Désir has confirmed. From the new academic year, the compulsory school age is dropped from six to five, to include the last year of nursery school.

    Ryanair says it will abolish flight change fees for bookings in July and August, so travellers can adjust their summer plans without penalty. Flights scheduled in the summer months can be moved to any date until 31 December.

    And finally, a safety protocol has been approved for Belgium's sex workers to resume their activities. Hydroalcoholic gel and masks must be supplied to clients on arrival and it is recommended that both parties take a shower at the start. Bedsheets should be changed after each appointment, or bedding be used that can be wiped clean with disinfectant. The City of Brussels has not yet decided when prostitution services will resume, but Schaerbeek is planning to allow it from 15 June and Saint-Josse from 30 June.

    Sciensano statistics update of 10 June. 132 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 18 (14%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 59 569 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 6 104 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 24 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 68 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 9 June, a total of 17 517 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 16 392 people have left. Currently 102 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Only 10 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 2 (20%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 629 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 468 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 8 Jun 2020 3:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday 8 June 2020 – Welcome to Phase 3.

    We hope you all had a very enjoyable and (relatively) dry weekend. Welcome to Phase 3 of Belgium’s lockdown easement.


    What can I do today, that I couldn’t do on Sunday?

    Meals out, gym sessions and daytrips are back on the agenda and the rules on social contacts outside your home have been eased. The previous rule of four people outside your household is now replaced by an individual limit of 10 outside contacts per week. Gatherings - at home, in a park or in a restaurant - are allowed for up to 10 people, children included.

    Cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen, with a 1.5 metre distance between tables and a maximum 10 people per group. Customers should be served at their table, and staff must wear a mask.

    Sports activities without contact can return to normal - both outdoors and indoors, but changing rooms and showers must remain closed.

    Church services are allowed from 8 June, with a maximum 100 people.

    Excursions within Belgium - a day trip or longer - can go ahead from today.

    Flea markets can reopen from 8 June, with the same 50-stall limit as other markets.

    It is possible to bathe in lakes, ponds and the sea in Belgium from today (8 June), but only if lifeguards are present and it stops raining.

    And ICYMI

    A new tax-free perk for employers and their staff is coming soon. The "consumer cheque" provides EUR 300 of spending money for restaurants, cafes, culture, sport and leisure - among the sectors worst-hit by the coronavirus shutdown. Employers can decide whether to offer the perk to workers and the cost is tax-exempt. It cannot be used online, only in person, to pay for, for example, a meal or a cinema ticket, buy a book or go to an amusement park.

    Every resident in Belgium will be eligible for a free 10-journey SNCB rail pass for trips within the country up to the end of 2020. The surcharge for taking bikes on trains will also be lifted over the summer.

    Sciensano statistics update of 8 June. 122 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 19 (16%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 59 348 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 6 075 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 23 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 24 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 7 June, a total of 17 477 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 16 315 people have left. Currently 116 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Only 11 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 2 (18%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 606 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 465 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 5 Jun 2020 2:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday 5 June 2020 – Excess mortality now ‘normal’.

    Belgium has recorded no "excess mortality" since 11 May. This means that the number of deaths is no higher than it would ordinarily have been at this time of year. Between 16 March and 10 May, Belgium had an average excess mortality of 47% due to coronavirus. When the virus peaked, in the week of 6 April, excess mortality was at 95%, which meant that almost twice as many people died in that week than would normally be expected.


    Sciensano statistics update of 5 June. 140 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 34 (24%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 58 907 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 6 010 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 32 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 64 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 4 June, a total of 17 407 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 16 112 people have left. Currently 137 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    29 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 2 (7%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 566 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 458 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 4 Jun 2020 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday 4 June 2020 – Lockdown eases and more.

    Our article on the full announcement of lockdown easement measures from Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès can be found here. 

    In summary:

    • From 8 June, Belgians are allowed to meet weekly with up to 10 others - the so-called ‘extended bubble’ - outside their family/ household.
    • The catering industry can reopen on 8 June. Cafés, restaurants and night shops will be allowed to stay open until 1am. At the restaurant and café, there should be 1.5 meters between the tables (with a maximum of 10 people per table) and all customers should remain seated. Staff will wear face masks. Clubs cannot reopen before the end of August.
    • In the cultural sector, activities without an audience can take place from 8 June. From 1 July, an audience of maximum 200 people can be present. Cinemas will also open for 200 people on 1 July. Amusement parks can open from 1 July with mask wearing recommended. Major events remain prohibited until 31 August.
    • Fitness centres can reopen on 8 June, for amateurs and professional athletes, indoor and outdoor. Contact sports such as football, basket or judo are limited to contactless training. From 1 July, a seated audience of up to 200 people is allowed, respecting the safety distances. Wellness centres, saunas and indoor and outdoor pools must remain closed.
    • Religious services can take place again from 8 June with 100 people, and from 1 July with 200.
    • Weddings, banquets and receptions can take place from 8 June with 50 people, subject to compliance with the distance rules.
    • Travel is possible from 8 June within Belgium, from 15 June within the European Union, Schengen and the United Kingdom, depending on the country of destination’s own rules. Travel outside Europe has yet to be discussed.
    • Teleworking is still recommended where possible.

    "The social distance rule will not apply to your broader social bubble," said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. "Eating together or inviting people to your house ... It is very difficult to maintain a social distance". "But do not try to kiss your friends or greet them too closely," she added. "Although there is of course an area of understanding, because we want to see more people in more sociable circumstances."

    Who can you count in your weekly bubble of ten? Virologist Marc Van Ranst emphasises that these are people with whom we have intensive and close contact. According to Van Ranst, your [work] colleagues do not belong to that group.

    Clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine can resume, announces WHO after analysing "available data on mortality".

    Pharmacies located in the Brussels Region will soon be able to report domestic violence. A resolution to this effect was approved unanimously on Tuesday in the Equal Opportunities Committee of the regional parliament.

    Cancer sufferers have twice the risk of dying from Covid-19 compared to non-cancer patients, a large study found. The more advanced the cancer, the greater the risk of dying, the study published in the medical journal The Lancet noted.

    The population increase in Belgium will be much smaller due to COVID-19 at 17 000 inhabitants instead of the predicted 50 000. The increase in deaths and the reduction in migratory flows are the main reasons. And average life expectancy is predicted to decreases by five months in 2020.

    A majority of farmers in Belgium have suffered financially during the corona crisis and expect further losses in the future, according to a survey by the Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Nutrition Research.

    Eight out of 10 Belgians want to return to a cafe or restaurant as soon as they reopen.

    STIB has lost two-thirds of its travellers. 2019 was another record year for Brussels public transport. 2020 will be a year of patience. 39% of Belgians no longer want to take the metro, according to a study by Brussels University VUB.

    Cycling is growing in popularity in Brussels with both residents and commuters.

    1 in 5 Belgians still hesitate to go on holiday, but younger people are more enthusiastic.

    Brussels Airport: the temperature of all passengers will be systematically checked with a system installed for both departing and arriving passengers as of 15 June 15.

    Sunweb will offer holidays from 15 June to destinations in France, Italy, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus first. More destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia will follow gradually.

    Italy will allow travel to and from abroad again from Wednesday. All airports in the country are open and Italians are also allowed to travel all over the country again.

    Wizz airline launches flights on Monday between Brussels and Budapest.

    Due to the relaxation of measures, efficient tracing of infections is a must. Currently the investigators have hardly any work. By September, it will become very serious, especially with a second wave. Flanders currently employs 400 contact researchers, but at the moment there is almost technical unemployment with barely 60 infections reported a day.

    Races can start again on Monday at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

    The Manneken-Pis museum now ready to welcome the public.

    Sciensano statistics update of 4 June. Just 82 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 7 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 58 767 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 976 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 21 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 89 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 2 June, a total of 17 375 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 16 048 people have left. Currently 143 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    28 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 3 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 548 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 467 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 4 Jun 2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Wednesday,3 June, the Belgian National Security Council (NSC) approved the transition to phase 3 of the deconfinement plan, starting on 8 June, thanks to the encouraging data from Belgian health authorities.


    The new rules, announced by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, mark a radical change in approach compared to the rules in force at present: now freedom is the rule and prohibitions are the exception.

    The activities which remain prohibited do so because they involve either too close contact between individuals, or are mass gatherings or because protocols / specific rules for a sector have not yet could be defined.

    This new approach can be understood on two levels. First, individual behaviour (what behaviour should I adopt when faced with these freedoms?) And secondly, the regulatory framework that applies to an organised activity (which protocols are implemented by professionals to organise an activity?).

    So what can we do from 8 June?

    1. Regarding individual behaviour, there are six golden rules:

    • Hygiene measures remain essential;
    • Outdoor activities should, as far as possible, be favoured. If necessary, for indoor activities, the rooms must be sufficiently ventilated;
    • Additional precautions are necessary with persons at risk. A charter is being prepared for senior volunteers to provide them with a little more clarity as to the activities they can practice safely;
    • The safety distances remain in effect except for people in your household, for children under 12 years of age, and for people with whom you have closer contact, in other words the ‘extended bubble’. If necessary, you should to wear a mask;
    • You can now have closer contact with 10 different people per week in addition to your household (this is the ‘extended bubble’ referred to above). This is an individual right and you can change the people in your ‘bubble’ every week;
    • Group meetings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people, including children. This applies to all meetings, regardless of whether they take place at your home or outside it (e.g.in the park or restaurant).

    2. About the regulatory framework:

    • All organised activities resume, unless the restart is planned in another phase, with protocols that protect both users and staff. These protocols are determined by the competent minister and on the advice of the Expert Grooup during consultations with the sector and in the case of north-south matters, with an inter-federal approach;
    • The protocols will be evaluated by July 1. If no protocol exists for a sub-sector, a document will be made public in order to give the general rules which must at apply as a minimum;
    • It is recommended that people continue to telework wherever possible.
    • The hospitality, sports and culture sectors are the major sectors for which important decisions have been taken and the new rules are detailed below.

    Hospitality sector

    This sector may partially reopen. However, the games rooms (for example casinos), the banquet and reception rooms can only reopen on 1 July. Regarding banquet and reception rooms, this will be possible with a maximum of 50 people present, under the same conditions as catering. Nightclubs will not be allowed to open until the end of August to avoid unsafe social distancing.

    Apart from these exceptions, all other catering establishments such as cafes, bars and restaurants will be opened again, in accordance with a very precise protocol.

    The main features of this protocol are:

    • A distance of 1.50 m between the tables;
    • A maximum of 10 people per table;
    • Each client must remain seated at his own table;
    • Waiters must wear a mask;
    • All food establishments, including night shops, can remain open until 1:00 a.m.

    Cultural sector

    From June 8, cultural activities without an audience can resume. Performances with the public - including cinemas - may resume from 1 July, but always according to specific rules relating to audience management, such as respecting safety distances for the public and a maximum of 200 people present.

    The organisation of activities should be planned in such a way as to avoid large gatherings, for example, outside the auditorium.

    When people participate in cultural activities, and also leisure activities, the wearing of a mask is always recommended.

    Sports and, now also cultural activities organised and supervised by a manager are limited to 20 people in June and 50 people in July, in order to respect social distances.

    In these two above sectors the very gradual reopening and the associated conditions will make profitability more difficult. At the federal and regional level, in addition to extending or adapting generic measures to support the economy, the government is working on a series of targeted measures to help certain sectors.

    Sports sector

    From 8 June, contactless sports activities may resume, whether indoor or outdoor, exercised as an amateur or at a professional, competitive and training level. The gyms and fitness areas can also reopen, subject to respecting the protocol.

    However:

    • Contact sports (for example judo, boxing, football, etc.) must always be limited to training that is "contactless";
    • With regard to sports infrastructure, the protocols must also be followed. Changing rooms and showers will still not be accessible;
    • Swimming pools, saunas and wellness centres should remain closed at this stage.

    Note that as far as sport is concerned, everything will be allowed again from 1 July on condition that the protocols are respected.

    Whether in the cultural sector or the sports sector, a maximum seated audience of 200 people will be allowed from 1 July, respecting safety distances and protocols.

    Religion

    • Religious or philosophical cults can resume from 8 June under the following rules:
    • The safety distance must be respected with a maximum of 100 people present;
    • From July, this number of people will be extended to 200, in parallel with the cultural and sports sector;
    • Rites that involve physical contact are prohibited.

    Travelling

    From 8 June, it will be possible to go on an excursion for one or more days in Belgium.

    From 15 June, Belgium will reopen its borders to and from the European Union, including the United Kingdom, and the other four Schengen countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway). Please note, however, that each country alone decides whether or not to open its borders. Therefore, to find out the situation in your country of destination, it is advisable to consult the Belgian Foreign Affairs website. Conditions for travel outside Europe have yet to be determined in the light of the progress of discussions at European level.

    Leisure and relaxation

    Leisure and relaxation activities are authorised from June 8, with the exception of conferences, amusement parks and indoor playgrounds, which cannot resume until 1 July.

    Gatherings

    In the case of cultural and leisure activities, these must be organised to avoid mass gatherings and wearing a mask is always recommended.

    Gatherings (for example fairs, village festivals, etc.) will remain prohibited until 1 August and may then resume gradually. However, major mass events will remain banned until 31 August, as previously announced.

    An online assessment tool will be made available at the beginning of summer for organisers who wish to find out about the possibility or not of organising an event and what conditions will apply.

    Phases 4 and 5 of our deconfinement strategy will take place in July and August, if the epidemiological conditions allow.

    Read the original statement (in French) here.

  • 3 Jun 2020 4:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday 3 June 2020 – Lockdown is easing from Monday!


    The National Security Council (NSC) has met today (Wednesday 3 June) and confirms that Belgium will begin phase 3 of the COVID-19 lockdown easement from Monday 8 June

    This means that from Monday:

    • The rules on social contacts outside your home have been eased, allowing every individual to meet up to 10 people per week.
    • Gatherings - at home, in a park or in a restaurant - will be allowed for up to 10 people, children included.
    • Cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen from 8 June, with a 1.5 metre distance between tables and a maximum 10 people per table. Bar service will not be available and waiters must wear a mask.
    • All restaurants must close by 1.00 in the morning. Night shops can also stay open until 1.00.
    • Casinos can reopen from 1 July. Party venues can accommodate up to 50 people, from 1 July. Nightclubs will remain closed until the end of August.
    • Sports activities can return to normal from 8 June, outdoors and indoors. Gyms will be allowed to reopen, provided safety distances are maintained.
    • Contact sports remain banned. Swimming pools, spas remain closed for now. These should reopen from 1 July.
    • Religious ceremonies are allowed from 8 June, with a maximum 100 people in attendance. This will be extended to 200 people from 1 July.
    • Excursions within Belgium - a day trip or longer - can go ahead from 8 June. Cross-border travel within the EU should be allowed from 15 June.

    Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said the next phase would be "a crucial next step" in the easing of Belgium's coronavirus restrictions, and other stages would follow in July and August.

    The basic safety rules remain in place: wash your hands, prioritise outdoor activities over indoors as much as possible, be extra careful around at-risk people, and maintain social distancing.

    Remote working remains recommended wherever possible and large gatherings remain banned until 31 August.

    Sciensano statistics update of 3 June. Just 70 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 6 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 58 685 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 969 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 31 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 25 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 2 June, a total of 17 354 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 15 959 people have left.

    17 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which none were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 522 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 464 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 172 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 1 Jun 2020 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A very Happy Belgian Bank Holiday Monday to you! Your COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday 1 June 2020.

    The National Security Council (NSC) will be meeting on Wednesday 3 June and, amongst other thing, will be considering the new measures required for the catering sector. The federal government and the hospitality industry have prepared a restart guide. "Account has been taken of restaurants that would like to organise two shifts in succession," said Minister Muylle. The NSC will consider measures including mandatory closing time at midnight, tables should be 1.5 meters apart in both cafés and restaurants; reservations to be mandatory for a restaurant and for cafes either a reservation is made or at least one person at a table must contact details. Ordering or sitting at the bar will not be allowed - staff, with a mask, will serve you at the table. Menus will be banned instead look at the chalk boards etc. And restaurants may not offer a bread basket, butter dish, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, etc – all such items must be individually packaged portions. Catering and hotel sector expects 45 % fewer customers when it reopens.


    The borders with the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany are now open for family visits and shopping, but not the French border. Belgium in favour of opening the internal borders of Europe from June 15. Interior Minister Pieter De Crem announced this on Friday night on his Facebook page.

    Everyone will be able to get tested for the presence of antibodies against the coronavirus says Minister of Health Maggie De Block.

    A second wave of the corona pandemic will be "highly likely", says Herman Goossens, Antwerp professor and internationally renowned microbiologist, specialised in antibiotic resistance. And he is worried about research on covid-19 treatments. "We don't know which products will help when the second wave starts," he says.

    However, when asked whether the phasing out of the corona measures is not going too fast, virologist Steven Van Gucht says: “We are now nineteen days further. That is enough to see a possible effect. And the numbers are still good. We see no effect of the relaxation for the time being.”

    Only 4.7 % of blood donors have antibodies to the coronavirus, according to residual samples from the Red Cross that Sciensano has been investigating since late March. The number has not increased since the measurements at the end of April, which means that there is still no question of group immunity.

    End of lockdown in residential care centres: new admissions to the old people’s homes will be allowed from 8 June. Since 12 March it has not been possible for residential care centres to welcome new guests.

    GDP contracted by 3.6 % in the first quarter of 2020 according to the National Bank of Belgium.

    Brussels market news: the Abattoirs outside market in Anderlecht reopened on Thursday with 50 stalls for a first 4-day weekend until Sunday. Indoors, the Foodmet, considered a shopping centre, had already started up again the weekend of May 21 with a capacity limited to some 300 visitors. No satisfactory solution has yet been found for the marché du midi. The Chaussée d'Anvers market should reopen on Wednesday, taking turns with the merchants of Place Emile Bockstael the following weekend. The flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle remains closed.

    Coastal mayors need "More time … to properly organise the arrival of day visitors."

    One in three Belgians will opt for a holiday in their own country this year.

    Brussels: fines return for non-compliance with the low-emission zone from 1 July. These fines were temporarily suspended in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

    From June 15, tourists and travellers from 29 countries will be allowed to re-enter Greece without quarantining, the Ministry of Tourism announced. Belgium (or UK) is not one of those countries.

    The Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church, in collaboration with the exit strategy expert group, has developed a detailed protocol with safety regulations for a resumption of public celebrations in the churches. In a first phase, a maximum of one hundred participants per celebration is allowed.

    Sciensano virus stats update of 1 June. 136 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 26 (19%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 58 517 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 947 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 25 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 32 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 31 May, a total of 17 297 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 15 919 people have left.

    19 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 4 (21%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 486 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 463 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 163 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 28 May 2020 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Playgrounds are open again for under-13s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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