Yesterday (22 November), Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and his French counterpart Jean Castex paid homage to the victims of the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016 in Brussels. However, Castex tested positive shortly after the wreath-laying ceremony and numerous Belgian ministers are now in quarantine.
The two premiers laid a wreath at the foot of the monument erected in memory of the 32 victims and were joined by Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès, Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, and Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder.
They all took their places behind De Croo and Castex, who then walked towards the monument with a wreath of flowers decorated with the Belgian and French flags. After the wreath was laid, they observed a minute’s silence.
After a few handshakes and informal exchanges the ministers left without making any comments to the press. The tribute comes at a time when a bilateral meeting on the fight against terrorism was being held on Monday in Brussels. The idea for the wreath-laying came up during the meeting, a French government press officer told Belga News Agency.
“The idea came about quite unexpectedly. Such an event is very important: our two countries have been hard hit by terrorism and the trial of the Paris attacks is currently being held in Paris,” the press service added.
Yet after French Prime Minister Jean Castex returned a positive coronavirus result, all ministers present – De Croo among them – cancelled their previous engagements and will be isolating until they receive their test results from a test on Wednesday.
According to reports from Le Soir, Castex is likely to have contracted the virus from his daughter, who also tested positive.