Belgium in Brief: Could Returning Expats Bump Belgium’s Figures?
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Belgium in Brief: Could Returning Expats Bump Belgium’s Figures?

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The mass exodus – and return – of Belgium’s huge expat community has become a topic of concern for experts in the country, as the question of the impact it could have on the country’s coronavirus figures comes to light.

Speaking to The Brussels Times, Steven Van Gucht stressed that everyone going and returning at roughly the same time could very possibly mean that “a great many new introductions of the virus will happen, essentially lighting the fuse.”

Cautious not to return to being one of the worst in Europe for coronavirus infection rates, everything is ultimately going to come down to everyone sticking to the rules as closely as possible.

“If everyone respects the quarantine measures, the imported virus will not spread further into the population,” Van Gucht explained.

“Even if most expats themselves are not so much at risk, they need to realise that the virus is going to lead a second, third and fourth life in so many people after them, and that could really have serious consequences,” he added.

More (a lot more) here & below.

So, as the Commission urges staff to be cautious, and the flights begin to take off, here’s the rest of the news from within the country.

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. Coronavirus: number of patients in Belgian hospitals rises

The number of hospitalised coronavirus patients is increasing again, and other coronavirus indicators are dropping more slowly, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Monday.

Between 28 November and 3 December, an average of 2,163 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 10% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

2. Belgium worries about expats returning after Christmas

Credit: Pixabay

The likelihood of impending international travel severely impacting Belgium’s improving coronavirus numbers is giving experts cause for concern, as the vast expat workforce begins to travel home for the holiday season.

As the start of December passes, and the flights home begin, the mass exodus seen every year to spend time with family and friends is posing some very real risks, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht told The Brussels Times. Read More.

3. Brussels drainpipe commemorates Jozsef Szajer’s sex party escape

The drainpipe used by Hungarian MEP Jozsef Szajer when he attempted to flee a 25 person sex party in the centre of Brussels has been given a temporary commemorative sign telling the story, according to reports.

“The political career of Jozsef Szajer, MEP of Fidesz and the EPP, ended here when he tried to flee the authorities using this gutter after attending an illegal ecstasy fuelled orgy amid the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday 27th November 2020,” it says on the sign. Read more.

4. Belgium to check if returning travellers are quarantining

Belgium will start checking if returning travellers quarantine and get tested during the end-of-year period, according to Karine Moykens, head of the Interfederal Testing & Tracing Committee.

“From 18 December, we will actually check [if people follow the rules],” Moykens told SudInfo. “This may not have been the case in August, but it is now. We have the staff for it.”

People returning to Belgium after a stay of more than 48 hours abroad are still required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). Read More.

5. Brussels terror attacks: trial begins behind closed doors

Today sees the start of the trial of those accused of the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016, which cost the lives of 32 people and injured 340 more.

For the first time ever, the proceedings will take place in what used to be the headquarters of NATO, now renamed Justitia, and rearranged to accommodate what will be the biggest trial the country has ever seen. Read more.

6. Dozens fined after lockdown gathering in Antwerp synagogue

Antwerp police busted over two dozen people at a lockdown gathering on Sunday, closing off a weekend heavy in coronavirus violations and sparking criticism from Mayor Bart De Wever.

Several of the attendees scrambled to attempt to hide or escape from police but a total of 43 were caught at the event, which took place in a synagogue in the central district of Deurne. Read More.

7. Brexit: ball is in Boris Johnson’s court, EU negotiator says

Chief Brexit negotiator for the EU Michel Barnier has said that the ball is in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s court for a post-Brexit trade agreement, a senior EU diplomat said according to Reuters.

Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke on the phone on Saturday. After deciding to give a trade agreement one last effort, Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost met again on Sunday. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times