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    Belgium in Brief: Travel Bans, 399 Confirmed Cases

    Credit: Belga

    Waking up on Thursday, a raft of new travel advice dominated the news in Belgium while the country continues to face up to the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). As social media tells people to stay at home, and transport companies say they’ll keep running, here’s the latest info from around the country to get you up to speed.

    Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



    1. Coronavirus: Belgium reaches 399 confirmed cases

    85 new people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), confirmed the FPS Public Health on Thursday.

    On 11 March, the National Reference Laboratory network tested 806 samples, of which 85 tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Belgium to 399. Read more.

    2. Stopping public transport is ‘not an option’

    It is not an option to stop public transport from running because of the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium, according to Flemish Minister for Mobility Lydia Peeters.

    “One in five families does not have a car, and is very much dependent on public transport,” Peeters said, adding that De Lijn, as well as TEC and STIB, are closely following the instructions of the government. Read more.

    3. Coronavirus: Belgium advises against non-essential travel to Spain

    Belgium said non-essential travel to Madrid and the Basque Country should be postponed as cases of the coronavirus pandemic multiply in both Spanish regions.

    “In line with the recommendations of local authorities, it is advised to postpone non-essential travel to these regions until further notice,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote in an update of its travel recommendations on Wednesday. Read more.

    4. Coronavirus: #StayHomeBelgium gains traction on Twitter

    A Twitter hashtag has been slowly gaining traction in Belgium as concerned individuals speak out against the country’s current coronavirus response.

    Messages urging to #StayHomeBelgium began being shared on Wednesday evening after the hashtag was first used by Brett Kobie, Creative Director at Bump. Read more.

    5. Trump bans travellers from Schengen area to US

    US President Donald Trump has issued a ban on most arrivals from Europe, as a protective measure against the coronavirus.

    The ban, starting on Friday evening and lasting 30 days,  concerns all flights originating in the Schengen area the White House said. The United Kingdom and Ireland are not included in the ban, which also does not affect Americans returning home. Read more.

    6. Man attacked, accused of causing coronavirus in Belgium

    A man of Asian origin was assaulted Saturday evening in Brussels by an individual who accused him of being “the cause” of the spread of the coronavirus in Belgium.

    The attacker was arrested and then released after questioning by the examining magistrate, the Brussels public prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday, confirming a report in Monday’s Het Nieuwsblad. Read more.

    In Other News

    7. Belgium ponders revenge porn laws

    The justice committee of the federal parliament has given a second reading to a bill intended to punish the publication of so-called “revenge porn”.

    The bill proposed by cdH would sanction the publication of intimate photographs of a person without that person’s consent. The publication is considered aggravated if it is carried out for the purposes of vengeance, or for financial gain. The offence will carry a possible prison term of six months to five years, as well as a fine of up to €15,000. Read more.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times