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    Coronavirus: GPs call for Crisis Commission

    Credit: Belga

    The President of the French-language College of General Medicine, Thomas Orban, called for the creation of a “Crisis Commission” on Sunday. 

    This Commission would follow the evolution of the Coronavirus in Belgium. 

    Influence over the health policy is currently split between the federal, communal and regional authorities. As it stands no less than nine ministers are involved in the decision-making. 

    “It’s high time we created a Crisis Commission to override that division of power. We have to move forward to if we are to stop this epidemic in its tracks,” Orban said when he appeared on “Ce n’est pas tous les jours dimanche” (RTL-TV). 

    The number of cases detected in Belgium is increasing every day. The country is still in “Stage two,” limiting the spread of the virus. Some scientists still want to go to “Stage 3 (containing the epidemic), like Italy which has instigated much stricter quarantine measures, banned mass gatherings, closed schools and so on. 

    “The government has not thought about doing that just yet,” said Home Affairs minister Pieter De Crem. “We have to be ready to possibly go to Stage 3 at some point,” said the Brussels-Wallonia Federation Health minister Bénédicte Linard. “Confinement has been discussed and a decision will be made based on what scientists recommend. There are discussions every day and sometimes even hour by hour.” 

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    Millions of people have been placed in quarantine in the North of Italy, but measures like that would “make little sense given the current situation in Belgium,” virologist Steven Van Gucht (Sciensano expert and director of the “Coronavirus” scientific committee) told the Belga agency. The population might be asked to limit participation in activities and avoid unnecessary travelling if the situation in Belgium gets worse. 

    Closing schools could actually have a negative effect because, as several specialists pointed out, children kept home from school could be sent to their grandparents and elderly people are in the “at-risk” category. 

    The number of ministers involved was also brought up. MR president Georges-Louis Bouchez said it needs to be reduced, especially on the French and German-language sides where there are six to nine ministers involved. Sofie Merckx (PTB) said the same thing. 

    “We can absolutely look into that, but it can wait until the situation is less urgent,” Linard said.  

    Sarah Johansson
    The Brussels Times