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Belgium in Brief: Not Ruling Out Another Lockdown

Credit: Belga/Bart Mesuere/Pxhere

Faced with rising coronavirus infections across Belgium, regional and local authorities have moved to take their own measures on top of those applied at a countrywide level in a push to avoid another lockdown.

The new measures, which include early closing times for restaurants, public drinking bans and even curfews, aim to address localised problems to halt the further spread of the virus.

However, despite all these rules, experts across the country have come out with a fairly unified opinion: at this time, they cannot rule out the possibility of another lockdown.

“During the first lockdown, politicians said: ‘We will never do that again’. That was wrong. Because that is how you kind of take that off the table a bit,” said virologist Marc Van Ranst. “We cannot rule out that we will have another lockdown soon.”

Within a week, Belgium will see if the most recent measures have had any effect, he said, adding that the figures will not drop by themselves.

“We will have to wait and see, but I think we should be ready with another set of measures if there is no effect by then.”

So, with that in mind, let’s recap the news you might have missed.

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. Wallonia, Brussels, Flanders: Belgium’s Covid-19 state of play

Faced with rising coronavirus infections, regional and local authorities in Belgium have moved to take their own measures on top of those applied at a countrywide level.

As part of a push to avoid a lockdown, these mounting new measures aim to address localised problems to halt the further spread of the virus – with rules even changing drastically at a border. Read more.

2. Belgium can’t rule out another lockdown, experts warn

Experts across Belgium have started to come out with a fairly unified opinion in light of the increasing infection numbers in the country.

At this time, they cannot rule out the possibility of another lockdown. Read more.

3. Almost 4,500 new coronavirus cases per day in Belgium, all indicators keep rising

An average of almost 4,500 additional people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium over the past week, and the number of hospitalisations and deaths also rose sharply, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Tuesday.

Over the 7-day period from 3 to 9 October, an average of 4,449.1 new people tested positive, which is an increase of 79% compared to the week before, meaning the number of new infections continues to rise sharply. Read more.

4. Map shows how coronavirus covered Belgium in 6 weeks

A map of Belgium posted on Twitter by Bart Mesuere, a researcher at the University of Ghent, visualises how the coronavirus spread across the country in a month and a half.

On Sunday, Mesuere posted several detailed graphs and a map showing how the coronavirus epidemic is evolving in Belgium, across all provinces and age groups.

“Flanders looks a little better, but is not that far behind Wallonia and Brussels,” he said. “Hopefully, next week we will see the first signs of a slowdown, because things are not looking so good.” Read more.

5. Two Walloon provinces impose coronavirus curfew

Two provinces in Belgium’s French-speaking Walloon region have imposed a curfew in efforts to clamp down on soaring coronavirus infections gripping their territories.

The curfew in the provinces of Luxembourg and the Brussels-bordering Walloon Brabant prohibits residents from being outdoors from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM. Read more.

6. Cold or flu-like symptoms are likely Covid-19, Sciensano virologist warns

The onset of certain symptoms at the moment is more likely to be due to the new coronavirus than to the flu, a top health official in Belgium’s said on Monday.

“At the moment, there is no flu virus circulating, and [there are] few other viruses,” Steven Van Gucht, a virologist at federal health institute Sciensano said in the daily coronavirus press conference.

“Therefore, there are high chances that your symptoms are due to the coronavirus,” he added, urging anyone who experienced symptoms to take precautions. Read more.

7. 600 students test positive for coronavirus at UCLouvain

The university city of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium reported on Tuesday hundreds of new coronavirus infections among students, one month into the new academic year.

A total of 600 students in the small French-speaking city tested positive for Covid-19, in news which comes as its wider province, Walloon Brabant, imposes a two-week curfew to curb climbing infection rates. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times