Belgians back from quarantined Tenerife monitored but not quarantined

Belgians back from quarantined Tenerife monitored but not quarantined
Flemish authorities said that the Belgian returnees had a "very low risk" of becoming sick with the new coronavirus. © Belga

Belgians returning from a quarantined hotel in the Spanish island of Tenerife do not have to go into isolation, Flemish health officials said.

"Spanish authorities confirmed that these people had had no contact with potentially infected patients," Joris Moonens from the Flemish Agency of Care and Health said.

While the information from Spanish authorities means that the Belgians do not have to be put in quarantine upon their return to the country, Moonens said, noting they had a "very low risk" of becoming sick.

"They must be vigilant of any potential fever, coughing or respiratory problems," he added.

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Some of the dozens of Belgians cleared to leave a hotel which Spanish authorities put under quarantine after an Italian couple tested positive for the new coronavirus are expected to arrive in Brussels Airport from Friday afternoon.

A medical official with the agency will be dispatched to the airport to receive the returning travellers, according to the Belga news agency.

In an online statement, the health agency said that Belgians returning from areas struck by confirmed cases of coronavirus but who do not feel sick can "simply continue your daily life, leave the house, go to work, etc."

The agency advised those returning from coronavirus hotspots to be on a two-week alert for symptoms such as fever, coughing or breathing problems, and to call a doctor if symptoms arise.

The response of the Belgian health officials sharply contrasts with that of health authorities in countries already hit by the outbreak, as they race to keep the virus from spreading further.

In the United Kingdom, which on Friday reported the first death of a British national from the virus, an airline said that it would not be flying Britons who were staying in the Tenerife hotel back to the UK before 10 March, unless they test negative for the virus.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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