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Belgium in Brief: Amazon Fires – Europe Guilty?

Credit: Belga/The Brussels Times

Belgium’s coronavirus figures are still increasing, but Greenpeace reminded everyone on Friday – 11 September – that the pandemic is not the only crisis we should be worried about.

The organisation hung a banner, reading “Amazon fires – Europe guilty,” on the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, blaming them for the fires.

“The world’s forests and other ecosystems are being destroyed to make way for expanding agriculture,” Greenpeace said in a statement. “Forests are essential for life. They are our best defence against climate breakdown.”

The EU is responsible for over 10% of global forest destruction, from the Amazon to the Congo Basin to Indonesia, through its consumption of agricultural products, according to the organisation.

By making it look like the Commission building is on fire, the organisation hopes to raise awareness about the urgency of the issue.

So, what else is in the news today? Hundreds of people on a flight to Charleroi were mistakenly told to quarantine, Liechtenstein is the only travel zone still entirely green for Belgians, and the Red Devils’ team captain enforcing face mask rules.

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 flight forced to quarantine due to government error

Hundreds of people were mistakenly told they must quarantine and get tested upon arrival in Belgium due to a system error involving a flight returning from a previously red zone.

People on a Ryanair flight from Sofia to Charleroi Airport on 30 August received a text message upon landing, informing them they were returning from a red zone and were required to get tested and quarantine.

“Everyone was unpleasantly surprised,” one passenger told The Brussels Times, noting that many were “asking questions and demanding answers.” Read More.

2. Belgium records rapid rise in number of new coronavirus infections

An average of 547.4 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 Friday.

The trend of new infections per day increased by 22% over the 7-day period from 1 to 7 September. This is the sixth day in a row that the average number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Belgium rises again.

From 4 to 10 September, the authorities recorded an average of 22 new hospital admissions per day, an increase compared to the daily average of 15.7 in the week before. The number of new hospitalisations remains relatively low, but continues to increase. Read more.

3. Coronavirus: Liechtenstein only travel zone still entirely green for Belgians

The principality of Liechtenstein remains the only country in Europe deemed as entirely safe for travel for Belgian residents, who can travel to and from there without any type of coronavirus restrictions.

In an update of Belgium’s travel advice on Wednesday, all countries had territories which were listed as either a red or orange travel zone in terms of risks related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Liechtenstein was the only destination whose entire territory remained as low-risk or green, meaning travel to and from is not bound to any sort of coronavirus restrictions, such as a test or quarantine. Read more.

4. Greenpeace hangs banner on Commission headquarters: ‘Amazon fires – Europe guilty’

Greenpeace has hung a banner on the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, blaming them for the Amazon fires.

The banner, which Greenpeace announced with a tweet on Friday morning, reads “Amazon fires – Europe guilty.”

“The world’s forests and other ecosystems are being destroyed to make way for expanding agriculture,” Greenpeace said in a statement. Read more.

5. Brexit: EU intensifying preparations to be ‘ready for all scenarios’, Barnier warns

Negotiations between the EU and the UK on their post-Brexit relationship remain difficult and do not seem to yield any progress, EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday evening.

The UK is currently in a transition period as, while it has left the EU at the end of January, the country remains in the EU customs union and single market until 31 December 2020.

Europe and the UK concluded an eighth round of talks that have been taking place since Tuesday in London. Read more.

6. ‘No clusters’: work and school did not cause rise in figures, expert says

An analysis saying that coronavirus infections mainly happen at work or school is being called into question by Belgian biostatistician Geert Molenberghs, who points to the lack of infection clusters in those places, and instead blames returning travellers for the increase in Belgium’s figures.

Even though some infections will definitely happen at school or at work, “there are no clusters of infections” that could indicate that these are the places where most infections happen. Read more.

7. Hazard gets ‘thumbs up’ from De Block for telling staff to wear mask properly

Eden Hazard, the captain of the Belgian Red Devils football team, received a thumbs up from Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block for telling a staff member to wear his face mask properly.

During Belgium’s UEFA Nations League game against Iceland on Tuesday, the camera briefly caught on Hazard sat in the stands, telling a technical staff member to pull up his mask so it covers his nose.

The staff member seems to indicate that putting his mask over his nose will fog up his glasses, but Hazard does not look happy with the explanation. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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