Don't skip work over coronavirus fears, says Flemish work minister

Don't skip work over coronavirus fears, says Flemish work minister
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People who feel well and have no symptoms must show up to work instead of staying home out of fear of the new coronavirus, in order to prevent "disastrous" effects on the economy, a Flemish minister said.

"I can only repeat it again, if you feel good, please come and work. If everyone stays at home out of fear, it can have disastrous effects for SMEs," Flemish Minister for Work Hilde Crevits told Bruzz.

Crevits' statements come as regional and federal government officials meet on Wednesday to discuss the country's strategy as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases mounts.

On Wednesday, federal health services said that the count of officially confirmed cases was now of 15 after five patients tested positive on Tuesday evening.

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The official count includes a Flemish man who was Belgium's first confirmed case of the virus but has since recovered. The man was tested for the virus upon his repatriation for China, and the results were positive despite the fact that he exhibited no symptoms.

In a statement ahead of the meeting, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon said that Belgium's response to the virus must be proportionate to the risks it poses and limit the impact of any potential containment measures.

"We must not exaggerate in order to prevent the effects of the measures [taken] to become greater than those brought on by the disease itself," he said.

As authorities continued to urge calm on Tuesday, Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block urged anyone feeling sick to remain at home.

"If you are sick, stay at home," De Block, a former general practitioner, said in a press conference. "Do not go visit someone. (...) Stay in your homes, I mean it."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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