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Belgium in Brief: Brussels Vs. 5G

Credit: The Brussels Times/Belga/Flickr Commons

It’s April fools day, not that many people seem to be taking much notice. As the spread of the coronavirus and the updates continue to dominate the news, it’s safe to say that people seem more concerned about the facts.

So what is the latest in Belgium? Brussels misses out on the 5G roll out, new changes go into place for the start of the new month, and – as always – we have the latest figures.

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. Belgium reaches 13,964 confirmed cases

1,189 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health during a press conference on Wednesday.

688 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 349 live in Wallonia, and 128 live in Brussels. The FPS does not yet have further information on the place of residence of 24 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 13,964. Read more.

2. What changed on 1 April

The start of April is usually met with all kinds of japes and jests on the part of the media, but this 1 April sees a more serious mood prevail. However, as always, the start of a new month brings changes within the country, ranging from free contraceptives for women, to laws on pleasure boat operations. Read more.

3. Where can you get 5G in Belgium?

Telecom provider Proximus has launched its “5G light” network in 30 municipalities in Belgium today, but where can you get it?

The rollout of this “light” 5G network, which is the first in Belgium, followed several extended discussions, as it was slowed down by political disagreements on the distribution of the proceeds. Eventually, an arrangement granting provisional rights was proposed pending a political agreement.

The 30 municipalities with 5G coverage are located across the country, in all provinces. However, the network will not cover Brussels, as it exceeds the Region’s radiation standards, which are “almost 50 times stricter” than what EU and WHO guidelines call for, according to Brussels MP Bianca Debaets. Read more.

4. Belgian children go on a (teddy) bear hunt

Children across the world have a new hobby to keep them occupied during social distancing walks, as they lead the hunt for teddy bears in people’s windows.

Part of a movement snowballing into a worldwide phenomenon, this bear hunt has been reported in London, the U.S. and has settled in Belgium.

The concept is simple. To keep children entertained while they’re out of school due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people are placing teddy bears in street-facing windows so the kids can hunt them out on walks. Read more.

5. Brussels’ health minister self-isolates with coronavirus symptoms

Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron has gone into in self-isolation with a suspected case of coronavirus, the minister confirmed Tuesday.

The regional minister said he had not been tested for the virus but that his doctor recommended he go into quarantine after he developed symptoms of the virus.

“Since last Saturday, I noticed a loss of taste and smell, quite particular symptoms of the virus, which suggests I must have it,” Maron said in an interview. Read more.

6. Maggie De Block must resign, says government staff union

The CSC-Public Services, the Christian union for the rights of government employees, has written an open letter calling for Federal Public Health Minister Maggie De Block’s resignation in light of the coronavirus.

In the letter, published on Le Vif (in French), the trade union noted several events in the management of the coronavirus pandemic, which it considered as “mistakes.”

“Your total and reckless lack of foresight, following the non-renewal of the strategic stockpile of FFP2 masks, really endangers front-line people as well as patients,” said the union. Read more.

7. Molenbeek’s MIMA museum crowdfunds €15,000

The MIMA Museum in Molenbeek has raised €15,000 to tackle the coronavirus crisis through the use of crowdfunding, and has pledged to donate a significant part of the proceeds to CHU Saint-Pierre.

MIMA, the Museum for Contemporary Art, has lost a significant amount of revenue due to the coronavirus crisis. The museum derives 50% of its funding from ticket sales, but due to the government’s far-reaching measures, the museum has had to close for the time being. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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