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Belgium in Brief: Save the Summer

Credit: Belga/Bruxelles Environment/Pixabay

We’ve all been in lockdown for a while now, and as the weather continues to improve, people are starting to get antsy. The advice from experts, however, remains the same. Stay inside, the lockdown holds, and if we want to save the summer, now is not the time to act out.

Now that’s out of the way, what else is going on? More clinical trials for a potential vaccine will start in June, advertisers warned not to take advantage of the virus, and the latest figures in Belgium.

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 24,983 confirmed cases

1,580 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Thursday.

1,049 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 370 live in Wallonia, and 149 live in Brussels. The FPS does not yet have further information on the place of residence of 12 other people. The total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 24,983. Read more.

2. Don’t risk losing the summer, experts warn

Belgium must resist the temptation to go outside excessively in the nice weather, or risk the coronavirus spread in the country extending over the summer, several experts have warned.

“If we want to save the summer, we have to stay inside now,” said Marc Van Ranst, Steven Van Gucht, Geert Meyfroidt and Erika Vlieghe Wednesday evening in VTM News.

“If we still want to enjoy the summer, we have to do our best now,” said Marc Van Ranst. “But remember this: it’s going to be okay.” Read more.

3. Clinical trials for coronavirus vaccine in Belgium begin in June

German laboratory CureVac has said it plans to begin clinical trials for a vaccine against coronavirus in Belgium and Germany in June. 

The vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA), the molecule needed to copy DNA (genetic material), to copy information from one or more genes. By injecting the mRNA into the patient’s body, the immune system is stimulated to produce the desired therapeutic proteins itself. Read more.

4. Outdoor activities could require stricter social distancing

People exercising outdoors during the coronavirus lockdown should apply social-distancing rules that are stricter than those officially recommended, a new study suggests.

Researchers at KU Leuven and at the Eindhoven University of Technology created simulations showing how those working out outdoors could be exposing themselves to the coronavirus even when staying 1.5 metres apart.

The simulations show that the respiratory droplets of someone potentially infected with the virus could come into contact with anyone located behind them by travelling through what he referred to as a slipstream. Read more.

5. Colruyt faces legal action after death of employee

The family of a Colruyt employee who died after contracting coronavirus says it will take legal action against the Belgian low cost supermarket.

The employee’s brother-in-law, Hatim Doghmi, told Belgian media that his family had hired two lawyers and would seek compensation from the company.

“The main question is where he contracted the virus, and [the answer] is: at work,” Doghmi said. “It is inexcusable that he was not fully protected against contamination there.” Read more.

6. Police can enter homes to stop lockdown parties

The police are allowed to enter private homes to interrupt a “lockdown party” in light of the spread of the coronavirus, according to Minister of the Interior Pieter De Crem.

He referred to a circular issued by the College of Procurators-General on 25 March, which details directives on the judicial enforcement of the government’s measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Read more.

7. Don’t use coronavirus for advertising, says Ethics Council

Belgium’s Advertising Council has urged advertisers to not play into the public’s feelings of fear and uncertainty regarding coronavirus after receiving several complaints from the public.

To prevent more complaints, the Advertising Council made some coronavirus-specific recommendations to the entire advertising sector, with the key rule being to “avoid irrelevant references to the coronavirus crisis in new advertising messages” and ensure that they “do not portray behaviour that undermines the measures taken by the public authorities.” Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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