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Belgium in Brief: Getting Out Of Spain

Credit: Belga/Pikist

Thousands of Belgian tourists have been left scrambling to get out of Spain by Friday afternoon following a shock shift into the red zone.

Travellers returning to Belgium from the majority of Spain later than Friday 4:00 PM will have to be tested and quarantined for 14 days, in a rapid change put in place due to the increasing number of infections in the country.

As the news begins to settle, tour operator Tui has announced that it will repatriate some 2,000 Belgian tourists from all regions of Spain except Tenerife from 3 to 10 September, spokesperson Piet Demeyere said on Thursday. According to the company, Tui has some 6,600 Belgian tourists throughout Spain, 2,000 of whom have booked a package holiday and 4,600 of whom only have a plane ticket.

It remains to be seen, however, how the rest of those looking to get back will contend with the looming deadline.

In other news, KU Leuven ranks high in university charts, a tangible timeline for a vaccine in Belgium and an introduction to Belgium’s new coronavirus advisory body.

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. Belgian average continues to drop slightly, 440 new coronavirus cases per day

An average of 439.9 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 decreased by 11% over the 7-day period from 24 to 30 August. The average number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Belgium is continuing its decreasing trend. Read More.

2. Coronavirus: first vaccine batch to arrive in Belgium next spring

The first batch of new coronavirus vaccines obtained by the European Union is set to arrive in Belgium by next spring, a Belgian official involved in the negotiations said on Thursday.

“On the basis of all the information that I have, I dare say that, by March 2021, we will have a vaccine against Covid-19 in Belgium,” said Xavier De Cuyper, chief of Belgium’s AFMPS medicines agency, the Belga news agency reports. Read more.

3. Reuzegom: what happened during Belgium’s deadly student hazing?

Eighteen members of the now-disbanded Flemish student club Reuzegom risk years of imprisonment for the death of Sanda Dia, a 20-year-old student who died after a hazing in 2018, after details of his death were made public.

Dia, who was a 20-year-old civil engineering student at the University of Leuven, died of hypothermia and multiple organ failure during an initiation to join student club Reuzegom, after drinking large amounts of alcohol and fish oil, and standing in a cold pool of water in December for an extended period of time.

Amid public outcry, court cases and more, here’s the rest of the story.

4. KU Leuven named best University in Belgium, 45th in the World

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KU Leuven has once again been named as the best university in Belgium, according to the 17th edition of the ranking of the British magazine Times Higher Education.

The universities of Ghent and Antwerp also appear in the top 200, which saw Oxford University remain at the top of the ranking of 1,300 universities in 92 countries. Read more.

5. Spain becomes red travel zone for Belgians from Friday

With the exception of Tenerife, all of Spain will become a red zone for travellers from Belgium from Friday, according to the latest update by Belgium’s Foreign Affairs website.

Travellers returning from Spain later than Friday 4:00 PM must be tested and quarantined for 14 days. The change is due to the increasing number of infections in Spain. Read more.

6. Coronavirus: New advisory body, but who are they?

The government will now be advised by a new body on all things relating to Covid-19, but who are they?

The GEES – the group of experts advising on the exit strategy from the lockdown – is since July no more. In its place comes the Celeval – the evaluation cell.

The cell is headed by Tom Auwers, the civil servant who heads the public health ministry of Maggie De Block (Open VLD), who previously represented her in the GEES. For the rest of the members, click here.

7. Two Belgian satellites successfully launched into orbit

Two Belgian satellites are among dozens shot into orbit on the night of Wednesday to Thursday in an unannounced operation, completed after several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The mission was launched out the Guiana Space Centre in the French Guianese commune of Kourou, a spaceport for French and Europe. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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