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Belgium in Brief: It’s A Lockdown, Not Car Free Sunday

Credit: Pixabay/European Cyclist Federation/Steven Sanders/Facebook

Last night the UK joined many European countries – Belgium included – in imposing a lockdown to try and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

So what is the latest in Belgium? Today, we’re covering the cleaner air in Brussels, the latest numbers, and a PSA that there is no evidence your pets can give you coronavirus.

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 4,269 confirmed cases

526 new people have tested positive for coronavirus, confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Tuesday.

381 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 87 live in Wallonia, and 38 live in Brussels. The FPS does not have further information on the place of residence of 20 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 4,269. Read more.

2. Doctors plead: don’t treat lockdown like car-free Sunday

Several doctors have voiced concerns over a significant number of amateur cyclists and other weak road users taking advantage of the limited number of cars on the road to venture out without regard for the traffic regulations.

“Confinement is not a Sunday without a car,” these doctors warned, fearing too many people flocking to emergency rooms with avoidable injuries. Read more.

3. Belgium begins clinical trials for coronavirus treatments

Clinical trials for experimental treatments against coronavirus have begun in four European countries, including Belgium.

The trials will use four antiviral drugs on 3,200 hospitalised coronavirus patients in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France.

The goal of the study is to “evaluate the efficiency and the safety of four therapeutic and experimental strategies which could have an effect against Covid-19 based on current scientific literature,” according to a press release on the study. Read more.

4. Top Gun anthem becomes a theme for Belgian health care workers

Several artists shared videos of themselves playing the Top Gun theme song after the guitarist of a Belgian metal band launched an initiative for health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, Steven Sanders, the guitarist of Belgian metal band Spoil Engine, shared a video on Facebook in which he played the theme song of the popular movie Top Gun, to thank “all the top gunners in the health care sector in and around [the city of] Roeselare.”

It just spread from there. Read more.

5. Belgium destroyed millions of mouth masks ahead of outbreak

Belgium’s current health ministry destroyed millions of mouth masks it had in a strategic reserve stock because they reached their expiration date, but failed to replace them.

32 million surgical masks and 6 million FFP2 respirator masks —currently in global shortage amid coronavirus pandemic—were destroyed because they had reached their expiration date and become “unusable.” Read more.

6. ‘No evidence’ that your pet can give you coronavirus

There is “no evidence” that pets can be infected with coronavirus, or can transmit it to humans, according to several animal health organisations.

The news that a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong was infected with the coronavirus worried a lot of pet owners. However, the number of virus particles found in the dog was very low, making it a “weak positive.”

Not cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, the list goes on. There is no evidence to say your pet will give you the virus. Read more.

7. Belgian air quality has significantly improved since Saturday

Air quality in Belgium has greatly improved since Saturday, notes the Interregional Environment Unit (CELINE), which attributes the results to the measures imposed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) but also to favourable weather conditions.

Containment measures alone cannot explain the improvement in air quality. “Teleworking, temporary unemployment and travel restrictions certainly play a positive role, but it is difficult to quantify,” said CELINE spokesman Frans Fierens, who believes that the current weather conditions are also contributing to a reduction in atmospheric concentrations of pollutants. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times