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Belgium in Brief: Breaking Belgium

Credit: Belga

In the days of coronavirus, sometimes it’s refreshing to start with something that isn’t health related. Today, that topic is the finding that nearly one in four Belgians have said they are in favour of splitting the country up.

56% of those questioned, however, believe that it will not be possible to maintain a unified country in the future.

Diving into the specifics, 28% of the Flemish people are in favour of the split, as are 18% of the Walloons and 17% of the inhabitants of Brussels, according to a new poll conducted by the Dedicated Institute for Soir Mag.

 This figure jumped when asked if it would be impossible for the country to remain unified, with 58% in Wallonia and 56% in Flanders, and slightly lower in Brussels (46%).

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. Coronavirus: Brussels infection average rises by 13%

The number of coronavirus infections in Brussels is rising in similar proportion to country-wide figures, according to the latest update by health institute Sciensano.

Figures by Sciensano on Wednesday showed that the average of new daily infections in Brussels during the first week of September was of 132.3 cases.

The number represents a hike of 13% in comparison with the past seven day period and keeps the capital region’s incidence rate (number of new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants) at 57.7, still above the alarming threshold of 50/100,000. Read More.

2. Belgian daily average breaks 500 new coronavirus cases

An average of 502.1 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 Wednesday.

The trend of new infections per day increased by 13% over the 7-day period from 30 August to 5 September. This is the fourth day in a row that the average number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Belgium rises again. Read more.

3. Belgium’s King Philippe and all party presidents will get tested for coronavirus

All Belgian party presidents and King Philippe are set to get a coronavirus test after one of two royal appointees negotiating for a new federal government tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

The Flemish liberal party Open Vld said on Tuesday that its president, royal appointee Egbert Lachaert had tested positive for the new coronavirus. Read more.

4. Bpost CEO under investigation by US Justice Department

The US Justice Department is investigating the chief executive of Bpost, Jean-Paul Van Avermaet, as part of an inquiry into alleged price fixing in the private security sector, De Standaard reports.

Before arriving at Bpost in 2019, Van Avermaet was cluster manager at G4S, the security firm. The company was one of several being investigated by the Belgian competition authority after allegations companies worked together to fix prices and shut down competition. Read more.

5. Belgian ex-professor gets year in prison for using ‘study’ to sexually harass students

An ex-professor at a Leuven university college has been sentenced to 12 months in prison with probation for the sexual harassment of several of his students.

The man (48) stood trial on Tuesday for sexual harassment and assault while in his former position as lecturer at the Leuven campus of UCLL University of Applied Sciences in 2015 and 2016, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

For two years, he contacted several female students with a private email address to let them participate in a “new study on relationships, sports, sexuality, leisure, body, love and relationships,” he said. Read more.

6. AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine trials halted to assess ‘serious side effect’

Late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials have been temporarily halted by developer AstraZeneca over suspicions that one trial participant developed a “serious side effect.”

The pharma giant said that it would pause one of the most advanced late-stage trials for a coronavirus vaccine being run globally, which involves voluntaries in countries including the UK, Brazil and the US, according to La Libre. Read more.

7. Brussels schools trigger quarantines after positive Covid-19 cases

One week into the new school year, hundreds of pupils and dozens of school staff in the Brussels Region have been quarantined following the detection of coronavirus cases.

Two preschools in the municipality of Ixelles have put a combined 210 pupils in preventative quarantine after two external school collaborators tested positive for coronavirus.

The children, all aged under 6, were not allowed to attend class on Monday in a decision the Francophone childhood authority ONE described as preventative due to the children’s young age. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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