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Belgium in Brief: The Tables Turn Again

Credit: Belga

It’s become a fairly common thing to say, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Belgium’s coronavirus figures are once again going through such a fluctuation that the situation is almost unrecognisable to that of less than a month ago.

The big news of last night was that Antwerp – previously an area of Belgium leading headlines with a high infection rate – will further relax measures, removing the curfew entirely.

Across Belgium, the average number of infections continues to decrease. This is not the case, however, in Brussels.

The Belgian capital city is currently reporting growth in infections, with figures from 17 to 23 August showing 916 new cases detected in the capital region.

It’s Thursday, some kids are already going back to school, and people return from vacation, let’s have a quick recap.

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. Antwerp lifts coronavirus curfew as infections decline

Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx announced that the mandate imposing a late-night curfew in the province will not be renewed after it expires tonight.

The obligation to wear a face mask on all public places in the province, applicable to all residents over the age of 12, will also be lifted.

From midnight on Thursday, residents of the Flemish province will be released from a months-long curfew which required them to retreat indoors for most of the night. Read More.

2. Belgian average decreases further, 492 new coronavirus infections per day

An average of 492.3 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 Thursday.

The trend of new infections per day has decreased by 8% again, over the 7-day period from 17 to 23 August. The average number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Belgium has been decreasing for several days in a row. Read more.

3. Coronavirus: infections climb again in Brussels as Antwerp lifts curfew

New weekly coronavirus cases climbed again in Brussels as an overall trend of decline in Belgium continues, figures showed on Thursday.

In the period of 17 to 23 August, 916 new cases were detected in the capital region, putting well above the national average in a hike of 11% compared to the previous week.

The growth rate also jumped in comparison to that recorded on Wednesday, when the weekly increase from the period of 16 to 22 August was of 7%. Read more.

4. 22% of August infections likely came from holidaymakers

22% of the coronavirus infections detected in August in Belgium were among people who travelled abroad in the previous 14 days, according to the National Crisis Centre.

It is “very likely” that these people contracted the virus abroad, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

“We see a similar picture abroad. In Italy and Germany, 1 in 3 infections occurs in people who have travelled in the past days. In the Netherlands, the figure is 24%,” he said, adding that these figures were not to be neglected. Read more.

5. Belgium will receive 7.5 million coronavirus vaccines, De Block says

Belgium will initially receive 7.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, according to Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block.

This is stated in the European contract with the British company, she told the Chamber Commission on Wednesday. As people will need to be vaccinated twice, about 3.8 million Belgians could be vaccinated with it, De Block said, adding that the first ones will go to high-risk patients and healthcare providers, reports Het Nieuwsblad. Read more.

6. Marc Van Ranst faces lawsuit over ‘reckless statements’

Virologist Marc Van Ranst could face a lawsuit for causing “unnecessarily great economic and social damage” over statements he’s made in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six Flemish entrepreneurs are of the opinion that Van Ranst’s statements are “indiscriminate and reckless” and have hired lawyer Walter Damen to take legal action, Het Laatste Nieuws reported. Read more.

7. Diesel prices to drop on Friday

The maximum price of diesel will go down in Belgium on Friday, according to official sources.

Anyone filling up with diesel (B7) will still pay a maximum of 1.359 euros per litre, according to the federal government department on Thursday. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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