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    Belgium in Brief: Explaining the Infections

    Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

    Every day Belgium gets an update on the latest coronavirus figures, on what’s happening, infection numbers, deaths, hospitalisations, and people getting out. The biggest question we get, however, is how to put this into context.

    So we tried, but more on that below.

    The sun is shining, the streets are still mostly quiet and I’m almost certain it’s almost the weekend.

    Now on to the latest news. Today we look at what constitutes a mass gathering, dive into summer plans and get you 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 36,138 confirmed cases

    1,329 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, confirmed the Federal Public Health Service during a press conference on Thursday.

    This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 36,138. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

    “1,287 of those positive results come from the classical testing network. The other 42 come from tests taken in the residential care centres, which are still ongoing,” said Van Gucht. In total, 139,387 coronavirus tests have been taken in Belgium, of which roughly 5,000 in the past 24 hours. Read more.

    2. Lockdown: what is a mass event?

    © Belga

    With the news that all mass events in Belgium are banned until 31 August, a question has been raised which currently has no clear answer – what constitutes a mass event?

    Speaking on Wednesday, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said that there is as of yet no precise definition. What is available, however, is the view of three major resources of what it could mean in practice. Read more.

    3. Belgian beach towns prepare for summer amid lockdown

    As the summer approaches, Belgian beach towns are considering ways to relieve their tourism-driven economies while keeping in check with coronavirus regulations.

    In Ostend, Mayor Bart Tommelein said in a TV interview on Thursday that he was considering rolling out “beach passes” to regulate access to the beach.

    Tommelein’s proposal will aim to counter expectations that Belgian beaches will be swamped this summer as countries keep their borders sealed to curb the pandemic.

    He’s not the only one with a plan. Read more.

    4. Explaining Belgium’s rising infections

    The total number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Belgium, as reported by the Federal Public Health Service every day, keeps growing, but what does that mean?

    The total number reflects all people in Belgium who have been confirmed infected by the virus at some point. Importantly, this includes active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

    This means that the count also includes the first infected Belgian person, who was repatriated from Wuhan at the start of February, and was released from quarantine and considered recovered before the current outbreak even started in Belgium. Read more.

    5. Brussels man receives a corona fine for the 14th time

    A 19-year-old Brussels man is to appear in court next month accused of ignoring the rules of confinement, after receiving his 14th police fine since the measures were introduced just over a month ago.

    In the latest incident, the youth was spotted by police sitting with a friend on the steps of the Muntpunt public library in the centre of Brussels, in clear breach of the rules on staying at home and social distancing.

    When the identities of the two were checked, both were found to be previous offenders, and when they were taken to the nearby police headquarters by the Grand Place, one was found to have been fined 13 times already. Read that here.

    6. ‘Corona Container’: Mass testing aims to get Belgium back to normal

    As part of the way to help Belgian life return to normal after the crisis, a system of “Corona Containers,” designed by a Belgian company, aims to facilitate mass testing for the coronavirus.

    On Wednesday, the federal government announced that it would extend Belgium’s lockdown measures until 3 May, and added that “no one” knew when life would return to normal, as it would depend on the figures and on how well the measures continue to be respected.

    Next week, the National Security Council will meet again, with the aim to organise the progressive and gradual relaxation of the measures, likely starting from the beginning of May. Read more.

    7. Global climate strike goes digital on April 24

    Belgian youth climate activists will take part in a digital global climate strike as youth campaigners seek to keep the pressure high on leaders as global attention shifts to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Global Climate Strike Online is slated for Friday 24 April and will take place via a videoconference, set to kick off at 5:00 PM. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times