Belgians on holiday consider returning early amid coronavirus fears
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Belgians on holiday consider returning early amid coronavirus fears

The infection continues to crop up across Europe. Credit: © Belga

Belgians who left the country last weekend to go on holidays are looking into returning early, now that the coronavirus is quickly spreading through Europe.

About 256,000 Belgians left the country to go on holiday, mainly to France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, according to figures by travel insurance company Touring. However, since the coronavirus outbreak in the north of Italy last week, the virus has spread quickly and all of those countries have confirmed cases of patients infected with coronavirus on Wednesday.

“We have had up to 300 requests for information about returning to Belgium early since the start of the holiday period,” Danny Smagghe, a spokesperson for travel insurance company Touring, told The Brussels Times.

However, as it was known that the coronavirus was present in the region before the holiday period started, the insurance company does not intervene when people decide to return to Belgium early.

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“I do not have an overview of how many people exactly are coming back to Belgium early, but we have had at least one call from a person who was already on their way back while calling,” Smagghe said. “It is possible that tour operators that people are travelling with offer an alternative destination from the one that was originally booked, but that is up to them,” he added.

Since the outbreak in northern Italy last week, coronavirus cases in Europe have been confirmed in Austria, Croatia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain and Greece.

Maggie De Block, the Federal Health Minister, said on Tuesday that Belgians travelling to Italy should heed the advice of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which urged caution to travellers as the outbreak in Italy picked up speed on Monday and asked them to register online before leaving the country, but that is was “not useful” to close the borders.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times