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Belgium in Brief: What Happens After 5 April?

Credit: Jules Johnston/Pexels/Belga

The weekend news has been punctuated by several reports saying that experts believe Belgium’s lockdown (light) could extend in some form beyond the current 5 April deadline. Kicking off the work-from-home week, we’re tackling some of the bigger myths surrounding the virus, the latest infection numbers and why your Facebook might be slower.

With so much information, and so little time to catch up before it potentially changes again, here are some of the top stories from around the country to get you up to speed.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Coronavirus: Belgium reaches 3,743 confirmed cases

342 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Monday.

173 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 118 live in Wallonia, and 45 live in Brussels. The FPS does not have further information on the place of residence of 6 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 3,743. Read more.

2. ‘Unlikely’ that Belgium will lift lockdown on 5 April

It is unlikely that lockdown measures imposed in Belgium to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be lifted on the current deadline, government officials said.

Upending daily life in Belgium and forcing schools and many businesses to temporarily close in efforts to slow down the spread of the virus, the measures are currently set to remain in place until Sunday 5 April. Experts, however, are not sure it will end there. Read more.

3. Some persistent myths set straight

Since the outbreak of the pandemic of coronavirus in China at the end of last year, a wide variety of claims have been made about the origins of the virus, its spread and how to combat it.

As the saying goes, a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on, and never has that been more true than in these days of social media, when even the word “viral” has been co-opted by the internet.

Here are some of the more intractable myths, proven false, of course. Read more.

4. Antwerp hospitals launch online coronavirus symptoms survey

A hospital network in Antwerp has launched an online questionnaire for people who think they may be infected with the coronavirus.

Created by the Antwerp Hospital Network (ZNA), the questionnaire surveys respondents on their symptoms in order to give them an “estimate of the chance” they have of being infected with the coronavirus as well as information about next steps. Read more.

5. Coronavirus: STIB increases frequency to hospitals

The Brussels public transport company STIB has adjusted its services to increase the frequency of the metros, trams and buses that serve hospitals and care centres in light of coronavirus.

After STIB’s decision to reduce its services last week, the company now announced that it would increase the frequency on several lines again, focussing on lines when the majority of people commute to and from work, and the lines serving hospitals and care centres. Read more.

6. Hundreds of reports issued as police chase lockdown violators

Over a hundred police reports and fines have already been issued against people and businesses who failed to comply with the lockdown measures since their introduction under a week ago.

Last weekend, the Brussels North Police Zone drew up 120 reports concerning people who did not respect the ban on all gatherings, as well as five to businesses who violated opening restrictions. Read more.

7. Facebook slows down in Europe to avoid congestion

The flow of videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe will be temporarily curbed to avoid network congestion in light of coronavirus epidemic, Facebook announced on Sunday. In doing so, Facebook takes similar measures to Netflix and Google.

“To help limit any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe,” said a Facebook spokesman in a statement. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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