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    Bring a face mask wherever you go, says Marc Van Ranst

    © Belga

    People should always have a face mask with them when they leave the house, according to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst.

    “When you go somewhere, no matter where, it is best to have a face mask with you, so that when it gets very busy, you can put it on,” Van Ranst told VRT.

    During the lockdown, Van Ranst repeatedly said that wearing a mask was not necessary if you kept a social distance of 1.5 metres, as the measures stated.

    However, in the current phase of the coronavirus crisis, he strongly recommends it. Together with state virologist Steven Van Gucht, he would have liked to have seen an obligation to wear masks in public places, but politicians did not follow their advice during the latest National Security Council.

    Currently, the wearing of face masks in public spaces is not mandatory, but “highly recommended.”

    “It is getting busier in supermarkets, on markets, and just everywhere, because people are coming out more often,” he said, adding that people cannot always be sure they can keep their distance in advance.

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    Although the number of infections continues to decrease in Belgium, Van Ranst warned that the virus has not changed, and is just as infectious as before.

    “There is just less virus, but when you encounter it, you still have the same chance to get sick of it, to end up in the hospital, in the intensive care unit, to be put on a ventilator, to die,” Van Ranst said. “That hasn’t changed,” he added.

    Last week, Van Ranst stood by former state virologist Emmanuel André, who stated that the use of a face mask was not a political debate, but “an absolute necessity.

    Translation: “Face masks are useful in busy places such as shops and public transport where keeping a 1.5 metres distance is not easy. It is a cheap measure that has become a good habit during these covid times in many other countries.”

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times