Belgium will quarantine arrivals from high-risk countries

Belgium will quarantine arrivals from high-risk countries
Credit: Belga

Belgium will treat travellers returning from a country or region where the coronavirus measures have been tightened again in the same way as high-risk contacts of infected people, the Risk Management Group decided on Monday.

This means that returning travellers will be tested and placed in quarantine for a maximum of two weeks. At the moment, however, it is not yet clear how this will be worked out in legal and practical terms.

As many Belgians are travelling within the EU again, experts such as virologist Marc Van Ranst fear that the virus can quickly spread again, as it did in February, when many people returned from holiday in Northern Italy.

However, in order to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus as much as possible, travellers returning from "an area where stricter measures apply again," will be regarded in the same way as high-risk contacts, Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke announced.

Such a high-risk contact status implies that these people, together with their families, will immediately be tested for the virus, and quarantined for a maximum of two weeks.

Even if the test proves negative, the quarantine will continue. At the earliest, five days after the first test and nine days after return, another test may be carried out. If it is negative again, the quarantine may be ended.

Over the past few days, Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block repeatedly stressed that it was "highly recommended" for returning travellers to self-quarantine, as there was no federal legal framework for her to make quarantine mandatory.

In two Spanish provinces, including in Catalonia, the virus is experiencing a flare-up, resulting in regions going into lockdown again. The Portuguese capital Lisbon and Leicester in England, as well as both Switzerland and Luxembourg, are tightening the measures again after new outbreaks.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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