First coronavirus case confirmed in Brussels

First coronavirus case confirmed in Brussels
© Belga

A Brussels resident has tested positive for the new coronavirus, marking the third confirmed infection of the outbreak in Belgium since the weekend.

The case was confirmed by Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron's cabinet, which said the patient had returned from a high-risk area, which his Walloon counterpart later said was the north of Italy.

The patient is reportedly quarantined at home and has been given the "adequate material and documentation," the cabinet said, adding that the patient had "symptoms of the infection but was in an overall good state."

"It would seem that there is a Brussels resident back from Milan who was diagnosed [sic] positive," Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale said live on radio. "They are in isolation at home and have a little bit of temperature."

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Health officials are currently working to identify people who had recent contacts with the latest confirmed patient, who will be required to monitor their health and take their temperature twice per day, reporting it to authorities.

The news marks the third overall confirmed case of the new coronavirus, Covid-19, reported in Belgium since the start of the outbreak, but only the second active infection.

A man repatriated from the Chinese epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan, tested positive for the virus in February but has since recovered.

A second confirmed case was reported in Antwerp at the weekend, a woman who had recently been in risk areas in France.

The arrival in Belgium of the outbreak which has locked down scores of cities in China and abroad has seen each of Belgium's different health ministers rush to announce containment measures, piling the pressure on the current caretaker government to roll out an appropriate and coordinated response.

Some local authorities have already beat the higher levels of government to the punch, in the image of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert in Brussels, which after the confirmation of the case in Antwerp barred anyone returning from a high-risk area from accessing public places.

Residents who develop symptoms are advised to avoid going to a hospital or a public health centre and to first contact a doctor, in order to limit the risks of further spreading the virus.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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