Organisers report no Covid-19 cases after BLM protest

Organisers report no Covid-19 cases after BLM protest
An estimated 10,000 people packed a square in Brussels in a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on 7 June. © Belga

There have been no known positive cases of Covid-19 among coordinators of a massive Black Lives Matter (BLM) march in Brussels, organisers said Wednesday.

Two weeks after the mass demonstration in Brussels, organisers told RTBF that among the 200 members who took part in setting up the march, no one had reported back with a Covid-19 infection.

Dido Lakama, a spokesperson for leading organising non-profit Change asbl, confirmed in a written message that they had not had "any Covid-19 cases among organisers or participants."

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Despite authorities allowing the protest to go forward, several state virologists in Belgium had raised concerns over the demonstration, saying that such large gatherings could cause the virus to flare up again.

On 7 June, some 10,000 people filled Brussels' Place Poelart to take part in the BLM march organised amid a wave of anti-racist protests after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black US citizen.

Marius Gilbert, a member of the expert group working on the lockdown phase-out strategy, said in a televised RTBF interview that measures observed by demonstrators likely played a role in lowering risks of transmissions.

"The risk was mitigated by the massive use of masks by participants," he said, also adding that if the protest hadn't drawn in such crows, social-distancing could have been easier to respect.

Gilbert also said that it would be difficult to attribute a potential surge in cases to an isolated event like the demonstration, noting that the protest took place as Belgium moved forward with lifting the lockdown and namely coincided with the reopening of bars, restaurants and cafés.

"Yes [the demonstration] can contribute to the transmission of the virus but we there are many other things that can favour transmission as well," he said.

In US cities where large BLM protests took place, researchers have said that the gatherings have not led to a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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