Health authorities said that five additional people had tested positive for the new coronavirus on Tuesday evening, bringing the total count of infections in Belgium to 15.
All five confirmed cases were patients who had returned to Belgium after travelling in northern Italy, according to a statement by the federal public health services (FPS Santé).
Two of the confirmed cases live in Flanders, two in Wallonia and one in Brussels, with all presenting “moderate signs” of the disease like coughing, fever and flu-like symptoms.
The five positive tests were among 243 screens that were carried out on Tuesday by the KU Leuven, which remains the officially designated lab to test suspected cases of the new Covid-19 coronavirus.
In Wallonia, the worsening condition of a 65-year-old who was hospitalised in Eupen after testing positive puzzles medical staff, who had considered the man to be a low-risk case because he had not been to an affected area or in contact with someone sick with the virus.
“The man is iller than previous patients and has developed pneumonia,” virologist Marc Van Ranst told De Standaard, after the man was transferred to Brussels’ Saint-Pierre hospital, one of the two main hospitals in Belgium for the treatment of viral outbreaks.
Scientists at Ghent’s University Hospital (UZ Ghent) have started carrying out Covid-19 tests, with all 18 samples screened on Wednesday morning testing negative for the virus. Additional results are expected on the course of Wednesday.
Since the start of the week, the lab has tested some 80 samples of patients who “cannot be excluded” from having the new coronavirus, with all tests coming back negative so far.
The official count of coronavirus patients in Belgium includes the first confirmed patient, who tested positive but displayed no symptoms after being repatriated from China in February. The man has since been cleared of the virus by health authorities.
A daily government press conference to give updates on the virus which previously took place at 10:00 AM will now be given at 11:30 AM.
Update: The total number of confirmed patients with the coronavirus (Covid-19) has increased to 23 on Wednesday, according to the FPS Public Health.