Belgium in Brief: The Same ‘As France And The Netherlands’
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Belgium in Brief: The Same ‘As France And The Netherlands’

Despite the best intentions, Belgium is following the same course as France and the Netherlands, according to health officials in the country.

The expected stabilisation of Belgium’s coronavirus cases did not come to pass, as the number of new cases not only keeps rising, but is beginning to accelerate in the country, experts warned.

“The stabilisation that we had hoped for only last week has not continued,” virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said on Monday. “On the contrary, we are once again seeing a clear increase in cases, in all provinces and all age groups.”

With a daily average of over 2,100 new confirmed cases over the past week, the virus in Belgium is “following the same course as France and the Netherlands,” according to him. France recorded almost 17,00 new cases in one day this weekend and placed Paris on “maximum alert” yesterday, and the Netherlands also reported over 4,000 new infections in 24 hours on Sunday.

Within Belgium, hospital numbers continue to cause concern amid a generally ‘derailing’ situation in the country and rising figures.

Want to know what’s going on? Keep reading.

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’s coronavirus average rises above 2,300 daily new cases

More than 2,300 new people per day tested positive for Covid-19 in Belgium over the past week, according to Tuesday’s figures by the Sciensano public health institute.

Over the 7-day period from 26 September to 2 October, an average of 2,309 new people tested positive, which is an increase of 48%, meaning the number of new infections is rising rapidly again.

In addition, an average of 81 people per day were hospitalised between 26 September and 2 October, a 25.7% increase. Read more.

2.‘Things in Brussels are ruined’ warns hospital chief

Brussels hospitals are struggling under the pressure caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the impact is starting to be seen, according to the head of the intensive care unit at the UZ Brussel.

Despite coronavirus patients occupying fewer beds than they have in previous months, the situation in Brussels is still dire, Elisabeth De Waele told ‘De afspraak’ on Monday evening.

“At the moment there are already people with brain tumours who have been rescheduled because we just don’t have an intensive bed. We can hardly cope with this any more,” De Waele explained. Read more.

3. Coronavirus situation is ‘derailing’ in Belgium, Marc Van Ranst warns

The spread of the coronavirus in Belgium has picked up the pace and is in some places worse than the one in hard-hit Paris, virologist Marc Van Ranst said, warning of a “derailing” situation.

“Tomorrow, Paris will close all bars for two weeks,” the leading expert said. “The incidence there is of 260 [cases] per 100,000 inhabitants. In Brussels: 472, Liège: 330, Walloon Brabant: 327.”

“Virologists have been warning for months that the situation is derailing in Belgium,” Van Ranst wrote, De Standaard reports. Read more.

4. 10 countries now red on European coronavirus map

A total number of ten countries are now coloured red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) coronavirus map, meaning they crossed the threshold of 120 confirmed infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks.

After nine countries, including Belgium, have been red for several days or weeks now, the United Kingdom has become red in the map’s latest update.

Spain (319 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks), the Czech Republic (303/100,000), France (245), the Netherlands (231), Belgium (206), Luxembourg (161), Iceland (158), Hungary (129) and Denmark (128) are now joined by the UK (135). Read more.

5. ‘Solidarity has limits’: Flemish city wants stop to transfers of Covid-19 patients from Brussels

The mayor of Aalst is declining to accept new transfers of coronavirus patients from Brussels as authorities of the Flemish city seek to keep enough beds available for local residents.

Several patients have been transferred from Brussels hospitals to Aalst, some 30 kilometres north of Brussels, as part of a standing cooperation agreement. Read more.

6. Belgium’s national rail moves to make its stations more accessible

Belgian railway company SNCB will speed up the adaptation of its stations so that people with reduced mobility will eventually be able to take the train independently.

The railway company will also adapt the design of its new double-decker trains with the upcoming order to bridge the difference in height with the platforms. The modified trains could be used “in the coming years,” according to a spokesman. Read more.

7. Belgian police arrest driver with €100,000 worth of drugs in his car

After a car chase on Saturday evening, a team of the Antwerp Road Patrol and Surveillance Unit arrested a man with a street value of over €100,000 worth of drugs in his car.

Around 9:15 PM on Saturday, the Antwerp road police wanted to check a Renault Laguna with a Belgian number plate on the E19 motorway. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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