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Belgium in Brief: Should We Talk About Numbers?

Credit: Belga/Vincent Rivaud/Pexels

As Belgium’s numbers continue to rise, officials are facing a clear call for action to prevent things from getting worse.

What that action should be, however, is not so clear.

Ever at the forefront of discussions, virologist Marc Van Ranst has said that the country could soon be registering 1,000 new cases on average each day. Virologist Yves Van Laethem has warned of a second mini coronavirus wave facing the country, while in Brussels, calls are being made for an emergency meeting to discuss rising figures in the city.

As it stands, however, the next big meeting on the agenda will likely be held next week when the National Security Council – which will provide changes to the rules – comes together.

While yet to be confirmed, the meeting will reportedly not take place earlier than planned as the ministers are still awaiting an opinion from Celeval, which assists the government in deciding the measures to be taken to fight the virus.

In the run-up to the meeting, the cell was asked to investigate ways in which people could sustainably maintain their social contacts while still staying safe, but that advice is not ready yet.

So, what else is in the news today? Fingerprints on ID cards, thousands demonstrate in Brussels, and the best pizza in Belgium.

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. Belgium facing second ‘mini coronavirus wave’, Sciensano expert warns

Belgium is about to start the second “mini” coronavirus wave of the summer, which can still be contained if authorities take appropriate measures, a state virologist said at the weekend.

“We are undoubtedly in a dynamic which shows that we are at the threshold of the second mini-wave of the summer,” Yves Van Laethem of public health institute Sciensano said in a TV interview on Sunday evening. Read More.

2. Belgian IDs will contain fingerprints by the end of year

New identity cards including the holders’ fingerprints will begin being issued by all Belgian municipalities by the end of the year.

The changes to Belgian identity cards were approved by the federal government in order to protect citizens against identity fraud schemes, Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said last year.

Following the approval, a pilot project was launched in 25 municipalities across the country whose town halls began issuing fingerprint ID-cards, including two Brussels municipalities: Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Brussels 1000. Read more.

3. Belgian daily average rises by over 200 new coronavirus cases in a week

An average of 680.6 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 Monday.

The trend of new infections per day increased by 42% over the 7-day period from 4 to 10 September, and has been rising more rapidly than before. Last Monday, Belgium recorded a daily average of 470 new cases per day. On Thursday, however, a peak of 940 new cases was recorded. Read more.

4. Brussels pizza restaurant named 5th best in Europe

The Brussels restaurant La Pizza è Bella, in the Sablon district, has been named the fifth best pizzeria in Europe by the Italian 50 Top Pizza ranking.

Every year, 50 Top Pizza publishes two lists of where the best pizzas are made, one for Italy, and one for Europe. Read more.

5. AstraZeneca resumes clinical vaccine trials

AstraZeneca has resumed clinical trials in the United Kingdom for a vaccine against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) following a three-day suspension, the British pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday.

“Clinical trials for the AstraZeneca Oxford coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222, have resumed in the UK following confirmation by the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that it was safe to do so,” AstraZeneca announced in a statement. Read more.

6. Brussels: 4,000 demonstrate for more health care spending

An estimated 4,000 people took part in a static demonstration in Brussels on Sunday to call for increased government spending on health care.

However, the event was marred by clashes between some demonstrators and police.

The demonstration had been approved in advance by the city of Brussels, provided that those taking part respected the sanitary measures in force: masks to be worn at all times, social distancing, and demonstrators organised into groups of 400 – the limit for events held outdoors. Read more.

7. Belgians bought a third more products online during Covid-19 crisis

Belgians’ online spending increased by 33% in the first half of 2020, according to figures from BeCommerce Market Monitor published on Sunday.

A total of 8.1 million Belgian consumers made online purchases.

More than one parcel in four contained clothing. One out of every three items of clothing purchased in the first half of the year was bought online. Before the coronavirus crisis, this proportion was less than 20%. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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