Brussels municipalities must act in coordination with one another and cannot individually decide to impose measures to fight the spread of the new Covid-19 coronavirus, regional authorities said.
"The municipalities of Brussels are not allowed to take individual measures in connection with the coronavirus," the minister-president of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort, said.
In a press conference following a meeting with representatives of the 19 municipalities of Brussels, Vervoort said that officials at both the regional and local level were now acting in accordance to phase 2 of a federal health risk plan, which focuses on keeping the virus from spreading further.
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"For the time being, only preventive measures are taken," Vervoort told reporters, adding that anyone who presents symptoms and who has been in a high-risk area should contact their doctor to be tested for the virus.
China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran, Singapour, Japan and northern Italy are listed as high-risk areas by federal health research centre Sciensano, which issues recommendations to the public and medical professionals on the outbreak.
Vervoort's statements could see one municipality snap back in line, after the mayor of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert decided to go at it alone and implement measures after an active case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Antwerp at the weekend.
In a reaction which was labelled as "disproportionate," Mayor Olivier Maingain issued a police order barring anyone returning from a "high-risk area" access to a range of public and private establishments, including schools.
Vervoort's statements also echo those of Belgium's caretaker prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, who said "cooperation" and "coordination" were the keywords in the country's response to the virus.
There are currently over 2,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Europe, with over 1,600 of them located in Italy, where 34 of the total 36 deaths have taken place.
The Brussels Times