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Belgium in Brief: Watch Out At Work

Credit: Belga

Even though teleworking is still recommended where possible, an analysis of contacts and sources of infection shows that there is a direct link between Belgium’s rising figures and the revival of businesses after the summer holidays and the start of the school year.

The much-criticised contact tracing of infected people, however, is working better and better now, and between 28 August and 3 September, 88% of Covid-19 patients in Flanders could be contacted.

On top of that, a surplus in employees’ vacation days this year has caused worries that many workers will take a lot of time off during the final months of the year.

“The fear is therefore that many employees will still take a lot of leave during the last months of the year,” the human resources specialist said. “Many companies are going to feel this.”

So, what else is in the news today? Brussels’ Central Station was temporarily evacuated after reports of an armed person, Belgium’s coronavirus figures are still rising, and an explainer on how a vaccine would work.

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. Covid-19 infections mostly happen at work and at school, research shows

People contract Covid-19 mainly at work and at school, according to an investigation by the Flemish Care and Health Agency relayed Thursday by Het Laatste Nieuws.

According to the Flemish Care and Health Agency, an analysis of contacts and sources of infection shows that there is a direct link between these rising figures and the start of the school year and the revival of businesses after the summer holidays. Read More.

2. Belgian average rises to 510 new coronavirus cases, 20 hospitalisations per day

Credit: Belga

An average of 509.7 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 increased by 15% over the 7-day period from 31 August to 6 September. This is the fifth day in a row that the average number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Belgium rises again. Read more.

3. Explained: How a coronavirus vaccine would work

As several candidate coronavirus vaccines have entered the last testing phases, Belgian health officials have stepped in to explain how an effective vaccine could work.

The principle of it is to bring a person into contact with a particle of the virus, so they can build up a defence against the virus without becoming ill. “To be clear, that virus particle, which we call an antigen, is not alive,” said virologist Boudewijn Catry. Read more.

4. Additional EU areas become red zones for Belgians from Friday

A number of new areas in the European Union will be considered a red travel zone for Belgians from Friday, according to the latest update on the Foreign Affairs’ website.

From Friday 11 September at 4:00 PM, non-essential travel to these areas will no longer be allowed, and being tested and quarantined upon return will be mandatory.

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic will be considered a red zone as of Friday, as will the Swiss canton of Freiburg and several other areas. Read more.

5. Employees have a surplus in vacation days this year due to coronavirus

A surplus in employees’ vacation days this year causes worry that many employees will take a lot of time off during the final months of the year, Human Resources specialist Attentia said on Thursday.

Employees have clearly taken fewer days off from March through June, the HR specialist noted. The surplus is partly explained by the temporary unemployment peak that occurred mainly in April, but confinement also meant that many employees cancelled or did not plan any holidays in the spring.

“The fear is therefore that many employees will still take a lot of leave during the last months of the year,” the human resources specialist said. Read more.

6. Belgium to hand over remains of Congo’s murdered prime minister

A Belgian court has ruled that the remains of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, kept by Belgium after his murder, can be returned to his family.

An examining magistrate ruled on Thursday that Lumumba’s tooth could be given back, ruling in favour of the late statesman’s daughter, who in June called on the Belgian state to return her fathers remains.

In June, 64-year-old Juliana Lumumba wrote a letter to King Philippe asking for her father’s remains to be returned “to the land of his ancestors.” Read more.

7. Central Station temporarily evacuated after reports of armed person

Central Station in Brussels was briefly evacuated by police on Wednesday night following reports of an armed person somewhere in the building.

Just before 10:00 PM, police moved in to search the central stairwell of the station after receiving a report. Read more.

Jules Johnston & Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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