Brussels is doing better than Flanders but 'solidarity is needed'

Brussels is doing better than Flanders but 'solidarity is needed'
Grand Place Brussels. Credit: Jilke Tielemans/The Brussels Times

While the coronavirus figures in Brussels are better than in Flanders and Wallonia, the Capital Region understands the need for nation-wide solidarity in the face of imminent stricter measures.

The Consultative Committee has been meeting to discuss additional rules for all of Belgium since 9:00 AM this morning – an understandable approach, says Elke Van den Brandt, the Brussels Minister responsible for Health and Welfare in the Joint Community Commission (Cocom).

"The situation in Brussels is not great either," she said on Flemish radio on Friday morning. "If the Consultative Committee is meeting, that is because the figures are alarming. We have to see how best to respond to them."

"The measures will also have an impact on Brussels, but our population does not necessarily stay within the region's borders," she stressed. "Brussels is not an island. Now, above all, we must show solidarity with each other."

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Van den Brandt acknowledged that a lot is being asked from people around the country but called attention to the fact that "the reality is that care is being postponed: that has a huge impact on the quality of life. We really do need to provide answers to that."

For virologist Marc Van Ranst, the high hospital figures (which are slowly starting to plateau, but at a high level) are also the main concern, he told Het Laatste Nieuws on Friday morning.

"The numbers may rise more slowly, but they are rising. They will also fall more slowly than they have risen," he said, advising politicians to keep in mind that a slower increase is still an increase.

For Van Ranst, Belgium should not be afraid to be more ambitious. "Other countries are doing better because they are stricter and have always been stricter. Within Europe, after Slovakia and the Czech Republic, we are the country with the highest number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants," he stressed.

An overview of the proposals for new measures given to the authorities by the GEMS expert group, which will serve as a starting point for the Consultative Committee, can be found here.

The Committee meeting will be followed by a press conference to announce the latest changes, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. The timing has yet to be announced.

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