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Belgium in Brief: L_CKD_WN

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s situation is starting to feel a little like a crossword clue that everyone is pretty sure they know the answer to.

France has it, Marc Van Ranst wants it (8 Letters)

By this point, 6 of the letters have been filled out, the people over every shoulder are starting to shout the answer, but instead, the person with the pen is trying to fit CLOSEBARS and MASKSMAYBE into the slot, only to find it isn’t quite working.

L_CKD_WN

Because, if experts, media and even Walloon politicians are anything to go by – there is a genuine expectation building in the country that a lockdown (Whoops, ruined it) could be coming.

As always, however, we’re only going to know once the meeting wraps up. The Consultative Committee is gathering at 1:00 PM, the press conference will be some time after, and once we know – you’ll know.

For now, let’s look at the things we can actually be sure of.

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1. Experts to Belgium: ‘impose new lockdown now’

Experts in Belgium are sounding the alarm and urging government leaders to take the country back into lockdown “now” ahead of a new Consultative Committee meeting on the coronavirus on Friday.

Warning that Belgium’s record-smashing figures and sending it into an “unprecedented tragedy,” experts urged swift and decisive action, with some even saying the situation called for a lockdown “within the hour.” Read more.

2. Consultative Committee: what Belgium is expected to discuss

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again at 1:00 PM today to evaluate the coronavirus situation as it faces crushing pressure to drastically tighten current regulations.

As previous measures have failed to contain hospitalisation and infection figures from skyrocketing, leaders are facing mounting calls to move the country back into lockdown to keep hospitals from collapsing.

The possibility of introducing one will be on the table, following statements that Wallonia would “move further towards a regional lockdown” if it does not consider the new rules sufficient. Read more.

3. Over 1,000 Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care in Belgium

A total of 1,057 Covid-19 patients are currently admitted to Belgian intensive care units, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Friday.

There are 64 more patients in the intensive care unit than yesterday. Of the 6,187 patients in hospital, 557 – or 16 more than yesterday – are on a ventilator.

An average of 618.4 patients was admitted to hospital between 22 and 29 October, which is a 77% increase compared to the week before, and passes the peak of 561.7 daily hospitalisations in April. Read more.

4. Belgian surrealism: Explaining regional measures once again

In the less than 2 weeks since Belgium implemented strict new coronavirus fighting measures, a lot has certainly changed. So here are the rules per region – both national and regional – helping you keep track of what is relevant where you are.

A lot of it is the same across the country, but certainly not all. Here are the rules you have to follow as of 29 October – which could very possibly have changed from November. Read More.

5. Bpost opens e-commerce warehouse driven by robots

Bpost CEO Jean-Paul Van Avermaet was in Roosendaal just over the Dutch border yesterday to inaugurate a brand-new warehouse created by subsidiary Active Ants to service webshops.

Active Ants started as a fulfilment centre in 2010, and grew with the explosion in e-commerce in the decade that followed. According to estimates, 16% of European companies with more than ten employees have a webshop – and in Belgium, the figure goes up to 21%. Read more.

6. High Council for Justice report: No cover-up in Chovanec case

There was no attempt by investigators to cover up any aspect of the case of Jozef Chovanec, the Slovakian man who died after a police intervention at Charleroi airport in 2018, the High Council for Justice has reported.

Jozef Chovanec was rushed to hospital in February 2018 after he had been heavily subdued by a group of police officers who held him down and sat on him in a police cell at the airport. He died later in hospital. Read more.

7. Proximus removes download limits as lockdown looms

Belgian Telecom provider Proximus has announced that it will lift download limits for all residential customers with a fixed internet connection next Monday, as Belgium faces talks of strict measures and a potential lockdown.

The lifting of the download limits should help customers study or work at home without any worries. In addition, care personnel will receive 10 GB of additional mobile data. Proximus has also announced it will give café and restaurant owners one month’s discount on products they temporarily don’t use. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times