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Belgium in Brief: Did You Build A Snowman?

It’s Blue Monday Morning, so we’re not diving back into the heavy news quite yet. Sorry if that’s what you were looking for, we cater to that below. Let’s kick off some good news.

Snow:  For weeks we have been predicting it, getting excited by it, staring in wonder as other countries became winter wonderlands while Belgium stayed the same. This weekend, that changed – did you build a snowman?

Vaccinations: Belgium’s hospital care staff will be able to get vaccinated from today as the vaccination campaign rollout continues, and the first people will receive their second doses of the vaccine.

Travel: Repair works at Brussels North station carried out over the weekend have now been completed, and traffic on platforms 3 and 4 is back to normal, rail infrastructure company Infrabel announced.

Got something to add? Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. Belgium expected to stop short of full travel ban

Key Belgian federal government ministers are expected to decide on Monday on strengthening the rules for people travelling abroad, federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet said. Read More.

2. Hundreds of Belgian suspects identified through British DNA data

More than 300 Belgian suspects were identified in the UK since Belgium and the UK started automatically exchanging DNA data on 21 December for forensic research.

In 312 cases among 2,180 matches, “an unidentified trace DNA profile could be associated with a person known to the English authorities, registered in their database,” Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne’s office said. Read More.

3. Smoke seen on Louise Tower

Brussels fire service was called to Avenue Louise on Monday morning after reports of large plumes of smoke from the top of the Louise Tower. Read More.

4. Court’s speeding verdict ‘not a danger’ for Brussels Zone 30

A speeding incident which took place last year in the commune of Schaerbeek when a motorist was flashed doing 64 km/h in what was then already a Zone 30 should not be cause for concern of new rules, experts have said.

The man was obliged to attend court since his offence was more than twice the legal limit, and the magistrate found him not guilty. Read more.

5. Belgium’s average coronavirus hospital admissions continue to drop

Average coronavirus hospital admissions in Belgium are continuing to drop, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Monday.

Between 8 and 14 January, an average of 2,010.1 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 9% increase compared to the week before. Read more.

6. Limburg hospital starts large-scale coronavirus mutation study

The Jessa Hospital in Hasselt has started sequencing the genome of the new coronavirus, examining mutations on a large scale of 2,000 samples per week.

The samples can be analysed within 3 to 4 days of detecting an infection, and are double the number analysed by the university hospitals of Ghent, Antwerp and Liège and the Rega Institute, who currently examine some 1,000 samples per week. Read More.

7. Artists spotlight their plight by performing outside closed Brussels theatre

Belgian artists denounced the unequal treatment which, they say, the culture sector has received during the novel coronavirus crisis by mounting a show outside the closed gates of the Royal Theatre of the Monnaie in Brussels on Saturday evening. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times