The outbreak of the new coronavirus reached Belgium over the weekend, with government officials confirming that the number of confirmed cases had surged to eight within a three-day period.
A man who was the first in Belgium to test positive for the virus at the start of February is included in the total count of confirmed cases, but health authorities said he has since recovered.
All imported cases
The remaining seven cases concern ongoing infections, all of whom are imported cases, meaning people who have contracted the virus after returning from a high-risk area abroad, namely the north of Italy.
Six out of the seven active infection cases are in Flanders and while they have all developed symptoms, none of them are in a life-threatening condition, Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the Flemish Agency for Care and Health told The Brussels Times.
The seventh case concerns a woman in Brussels who tested positive for the virus and who had recently travelled to Milan, in the Lombardy region of Italy, one of the most hard-hit by the viral outbreak.
"Of the five people in Flanders there was one family of three and then two separate cases," Moonens said. "They are at home in isolation and if their condition doesn't worsen they can stay at home until they get better."
Moonens said that details regarding the age of whereabouts of the patients could not be given due to privacy concerns, but said that the agency had contacted the local authorities to inform that they had active cases of the virus in their territory.
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'No danger' since patients are quarantined
"There is no danger for neighbours or for people living in the area and everyone who has been in contact with those people will be contacted," he said. "So if people don't get a call from us, they have nothing to worry about."
The agency has been able to trace and contact most of the persons who came in contact with any of the six patients, Moonens said, adding that they would be tested if they developed symptoms.
"Testing will only happen if they show signs of illness, but if they are healthy and have just had contact with the [coronavirus] patient then they don't need testing," he said, adding that, so far "no secondary infection cases" had been detected by the agency.
The quarantine on the patients will be lifted if their symptoms disappear or if they test negative for the virus two times in a row, Moonens added.
Testing for further cases of the new Covid-19 coronavirus was ongoing "non-stop" in Flanders, according to Moonens.
"Most of them are negative, but there is little doubt that in the coming hours or days we will get more positive results," he said.
The Brussels Times