Belgium in Brief: ‘We Have Seen A Resurgence Of The Virus’

Belgium in Brief: ‘We Have Seen A Resurgence Of The Virus’
Credit: Belga

For those of you looking for the latest information from the meeting of the Belgian National Security Council yesterday, you need to look no further.

There is none.

“Since the beginning of this month, we have seen a resurgence of the virus,” said Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès during the announcement that Phase 5 of deconfinement would be delayed.

For the first time since the start of deconfinement, the news is – arguably – that everything is staying the same. For now, rising figures mean that nothing changes until at least next week when figures will be discussed again. As it stands, Belgium remains expected to launch some news measures as of 1 August, but as those were meant to be announced yesterday, it’s safe to say there is some uncertainty now.

“The trend is not positive,” Wilmès said. “We want to see how it evolves now. We are also trying to find out more about the cause of the resurgence. Then we can take better measures,” she added.

Orange travel zones – a point of confusion for many – will also remain in place.

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. ‘No big difference’: Belgium delays decision on further relaxations

Belgium’s decision to wait for one-week before making a decision on new measures will make “no big difference,” according to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst.

As the coronavirus infections in Belgium continue to rise, the National Security Council decided to wait another week before taking a decision on possibly relaxing some more measures.

Phase 5 of the exit plan is set to start from 1 August, according to Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, but the authorities want to take the latest epidemiological situation into account for the decision.

A decision on whether or not Phase 5 can go ahead as planned will be taken on Thursday 23 July, and in the meantime, the situation “must certainly not get any worse,” said Wilmès during a press conference on Wednesday. Read more.

2. Belgium’s new coronavirus infections reach triple figures again

The average number of additional infections with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has climbed back up to almost 100 per day over the past seven days, according to the most recent figures from Sciensano.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 12% over the 7-day period from 6 to 12 July, meaning that an average number of 99.7 additional people tested positive for the virus. Read more.

3. Orange travel zones ‘absolutely must exist’, says Belgian PM

Despite the confusion and uncertainty Belgium’s list of orange travel zone has caused since it was created, the orange option “absolutely must exist,” according to Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

“The concept of the orange zones absolutely must exist. It is not all or nothing. It is not ‘very dangerous’ or ‘not dangerous at all’, and that’s why we have to keep the orange zone,” she said, adding that dealing with the in-between situations is also necessary. Read More.

4. Maggie De Block seen wearing Maggie De Block face mask

Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block, who has made headlines across the country throughout the crisis, is back in the news this week after photos appeared of her wearing an unusual face mask. Read more.

5. Experts call for localised measures if a second coronavirus wave hits Belgium

The Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES) would advocate tailor-made measures for each province in case Belgium would face a second wave, De Standaard reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Pieter De Crem already said that a new lockdown would not involve the entire country, saying “there are many reasons” to avoid another nationwide lockdown, with the economy playing an important role in that perspective.  Read more.

6. Belgian coast fights droughts by trying to turn sea water into drinking water

Faced with increasing periods of drought, a Belgian coastal town is researching ways to turn salt water into safe drinking water through a new filtration factory, which will be built by local water company AGSO Knokke-Heist. Read more.

7. Money troubles postpone Brussels Airlines schedule expansion

Ongoing discussion over the financial future of Brussels Airline has forced the operator to postpone plans to expand its flight offerings from August 2020.

In a note sent from the CEO to the staff the airline made it clear that it would only continue to fly with two long-haul and 21 short-haul aircraft for the time being, Belga reports. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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