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    Belgium in Brief: Is It A Second Wave?

    Infection numbers may be rising, measures may be strict, but according to Frédérique Jacobs, Francophone spokesperson for Belgium’s Crisis Centre, Belgium is not going through a second wave.

    Yet.

    “We are not going through a second wave, let us be clear,” Jacobs said in an interview with RTL Info. “We are seeing a rise in the number of people who test positive [for the new coronavirus].”

    Jacobs’ comments come following statements from Steven Van Gucht, a virologist and the Dutch-speaking spokesperson for federal health institute Sciensano, who had previously said that Belgium was already going through a new wave of the pandemic.

    “We may be at the beginning of a new wave, but for now the numbers are not so high, even if they are worrying, and if we do nothing we will obviously head into a new wave,” she added. More on that story here.

    It’s confusing times, with a lot to follow even without coronavirus, so with that in mind let’s look at the latest news.

    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. Average of 535 new coronavirus infections per day in Belgium

    An average of 535.4 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) between 26 July and 1 August, according to new figures by the Sciensano Public Health Institute published on Wednesday.

    This represents an increase of 58% compared to the previous week.

    The number of new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants – also known as the incidence – continues its upward trend. For the two weeks running up to and including 1 August, 53.2 cases were recorded, compared to 51.2 per 100,000 on Tuesday. Read More

    2. Adapt behaviour to the heat and the virus, crisis centre says

    In the coming days, Belgians will have to adapt their behaviour not only to the second coronavirus (Covid-19) wave, but also to the heatwave, Crisis Centre spokesperson Yves Stevens says on Wednesday.

    “With the coming of our next heatwave, we want to stress again how the virus spreads,” said virologist Steven Van Gucht.

    The virus is spread through close contact between people, through big droplets over a short distance, the crisis centre said, adding that the virus can also be transmitted through the hands when we touch an infected surface and rub our hands on our face. Read more.

    3. Ilse Uyttersprot, former mayor of Aalst, found murdered

    Ilse Uyttersprot, former mayor and alderman of Aalst (in the province of East Flanders) Ilse Uyttersprot was found dead on Tuesday.

    Uyttersprot’s boyfriend turned himself in on Tuesday morning, saying he had killed her, after which police found her body in an apartment on Meuleschettestraat in the centre of Aalst.

    The reason for the murder was in the “relational sphere,” according to the public prosecutor, although the exact circumstances of the murder are not clear yet. “They will be investigated further in the coming hours,” said Uyttersprot’s successor as mayor, Christoph D’Haese. Read More.

    4. Belgian killed in massive Beirut blasts as death toll rises

    One Belgian national is among the 100 confirmed deaths after massive blasts rocked Beirut on Tuesday, with the death toll expected to rise as the Lebanese capital works through the rubble and devastation.

    The Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that a Belgian national, so far unidentified, was killed after two explosions ripped through a warehouse in the city’s port, the Belga news agency reports. Read more.

    5. Flanders extends corona aid to business

    The Flemish regional government has announced the extension of its system of win-win aid to small businesses, the innovation and enterprise agency Vlaio has announced.

    The system was introduced in 2006 to create a situation under which private individuals, such as family and friends, could lend money to small businesses under attractive taxation terms. Read More.

    6. Weather Report: Heatwave will last into next week

    Belgium’s approaching heatwave – due to start on Thursday – will likely last into next week, according to the latest information from the Royal Meteorological Institute.

    With that in mind, here’s the weather report. 

    7. Antwerp coronatest village opens tomorrow: Here’s how it works

    The site set up by the city of Antwerp to test residents for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 will open tomorrow morning at 09.30. The testing is open to all residents of the nine districts of Antwerp, as well as residents of the neighbouring municipalities Borsbeek, Schoten, Stabroek and Wommelgem.

    The ‘test village’ is not intended for people with symptoms of Covid-19. Those people should first contact their GP. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times