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Belgium in Brief: Belgium Enters A Crucial Week

Those looking forward to larger social bubbles in the not so distant future might not like the latest news coming out of the Belgian virologist spheres, with experts suggesting that restricted social contact will remain the norm until we have a vaccine.

Virologist Marc Van Ranst explained that adjusted social contact groups are set to continue. “If the curve falls again, we can loosen up a bit,” Van Ranst, adding that relaxing the rules too much would not be possible.

In a similar note, Sciensano spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said that the more recent changes to social groups was paying off, but that previous bubbles of 15 people might have been too much.

“We went too far with the bubble of 15 different contacts,” Van Gucht said, adding that the reintroduction of social restrictions was “the main reason why we can now halt the increase” in new infection figures. Read more here.

With that in mind, what else is going on?

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 enters ‘crucial week’ to prevent new coronavirus lockdown

Belgium is entering a “crucial” week which will determine whether recent measures taken to contain a surge of new coronavirus infections in the country will stave off a potential return to lockdown.

State virologist Marc Van Ranst said that the rate at which new infections are detected this week will determine whether more drastic measures will need to be adopted for the coming weeks.

“If the current stricter rules do not work, we will move towards lockdown again,” Van Ranst said in an interview with De Morgen. “We know that that worked, even though it hurt us.” Read More.

2. How to (not) wear a face mask during the heatwave

As the high temperatures in Belgium are expected the last for several more days, the Crisis Centre gave some tips on how to correctly wear a face mask during the heatwave.

“The last few days, we have all experienced that wearing a mask is not pleasant when exposed to such high temperatures,” said Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre during a press conference on Monday. Read more.

3. Belgians ‘not welcome’ as Dutch city records rise in new coronavirus infections

An “alarming” surge of new coronavirus infections in a Dutch city on the border with Belgium has seen the mayor declare that Belgians would no longer be welcome on its territory.

“Belgians are not welcome right now,” Frank Petter, mayor of Bergen op Zoom, a town of some 66,000 inhabitants located just over a dozen kilometres from the Belgian border, said on Tuesday. Read More.

4. Belgium’s increase slows down to 588 new coronavirus infections per day

An average of 588 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to the latest figures by Sciensano on Tuesday.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 11% over the 7-day period from 1 to 7 August. The number of new cases is still rising, but the increase is smaller than it was yesterday.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 74,620. 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. Read more.

5. Set up Covid-19 testing centres in airports, train stations, Brussels mayor says

Belgium should make testing people for the new coronavirus its main priority and set up testing centres in airports and major train stations, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said.

“You can perfectly well open testing centres in [Brussels’] Zaventem airport and in the major train stations,” Close said in an interview with La Libre published on Tuesday.

“As soon as you arrive at a station or get off the plane, the screening takes place. It may take 10 to 15 minutes, but ensures clarity for citizens.” Read more.

6. Footage of a burning car outside Brussels circulates on social media

Footage of an incident involving a car on fire on the Brussels Ring road has been viewed thousands of times after a video was posted on a popular social media network.

The scene from Monday, which was recorded and shared on the popular social media app Tik Tok, and has seen over 10,000 likes in the day since it was posted. Read More.

7. Petrol will be more expensive at the pump on Wednesday

Petrol 95 will reach €1.39 per litre and petrol 98 will be displayed at €1.445 per litre.

These prices are the result of fluctuations in the price of petroleum products and/or the bio components contained in their composition on global markets. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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