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Belgium in Brief: Has The Second Wave Started?

Credit: Belga/Brussels Airlines

As we approach the latest meeting of the national security council, one thing seems quite clear – there’s a lot to be discussed.

From the confusion over orange travel zones to Belgium – and Europe’s – mounting infections, it’s anyone’s guess what exactly will be decided today.

As it stands, Belgium is expected to launch some new measures as of 1 August, as part of the continued easing of the lockdown. Experts, however, have been less sure of what will happen, with one going so far as to say the second wave of infection has started in Europe.

So what do the rising figures mean for measures in Belgium? Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block put it simply:

“If this continues, the next relaxations will certainly not be possible.”

The press conference following the National Security Council on Wednesday will start at 1:00 PM, according to the Belgian Prime Minister. We’ll have the latest as it happens.

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. Second coronavirus wave has begun, says Belgian expert

A second wave of the coronavirus has started in Europe, according to Belgian epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme, who fears that we “have lost control of the virus.”

“In an increasing number of places in Europe the infections are increasing,” Van Damme told VTM. “It seems as if we have lost control again. Until a few weeks ago, we were doing pretty well, and the epidemic was pretty well under control all over Europe,” he added.

According to Van Damme, the situation has everything to do with not applying the eased measures, or relaxing them too quickly. “We are now faced with a challenge to try to get that under control again,” he said. Read more.

2. Yes, no, yes: travellers from orange zones to be quarantined after all

Travellers returning to Belgium from a so-called “orange zone” will be asked to quarantine and get tested for the coronavirus after all, as the rules changed for the third time.

“If you are returning from an orange zone, quarantine and testing are called for,” a statement on the Foreign Affairs website reads on Tuesday afternoon. This is, however, not a requirement, like it is for travellers returning from red zones.

On Tuesday morning, Foreign Affairs changed its initial recommendation (which asked people to quarantine and get tested) to the need for “increased vigilance” as the rules were too vague. Read more.

3. Relaxing lockdown measures: Will they or won’t they?

At the moment, Belgium’s National Security Council is meeting to discuss the next step of the country’s exit, but as the figures are on the rise again, it is not guaranteed that the next relations will take place as planned.

Since at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, the Council has been discussing whether or not the planned relaxations from 1 August can be implemented, now that the coronavirus figures have been rising again for some days.

“If this continues, the next relaxations will certainly not be possible,” Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block told VRT earlier this week. Read More.

4. A third attempt at simplifying Belgium’s Traffic Light Travel system

We have officially passed the point that this can be called a simplified version of anything – so this is just a recap.

On Monday, The Brussels Times summarised the traffic light rules for Belgian travel – in an effort to make the process a little clearer.

By Tuesday, the rules had changed. Orange zones, which had previously recommended quarantine for people returning to Belgium from those places, no longer did – instead calling for people to be vigilant of their own condition.

By Tuesday evening, everything had changed again. Read more.

5. Belgium’s new coronavirus infections rise by 8% compared to last week

The average number of additional infections with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) per day over the past seven days has increased by 8% compared to the previous week, according to the most recent figures from Sciensano.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 62,872. 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.

An average number of 96 people per day tested positive for the virus over the 7-day period from 5 to 11 July. Read more.

6. 18-year-old dies of coronavirus in Brussels

A young woman of 18 years old has become the second person under 24 to die as a result of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, as the country continues to see rising infection numbers. Read more.

7. Weather Report: Don’t expect sun until the weekend

Tuesday afternoon marks the start of the rest of the week weather-wise, with cloudy skies and rain across the whole country, according to the Royal Institute of Meteorology (RMI). Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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