Coronavirus: Four Brussels communes exceed alarm level (updated)
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    Coronavirus: Four Brussels communes exceed alarm level (updated)

    A widespread obligation to wear a mask in public looms. © Belga

    Four of the 19 Brussels communes have passed the alarm level at which a general obligation to wear a face mask comes into operation, according to figures from the health institute Sciensano.

    At its last meeting, the regional security council for Brussels-Capital set a level of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, known as an incidence of 50, which if exceeded by any municipality would trigger the introduction of the obligation to wear a mask everywhere in public.

    Four communes have now exceeded that limit, calculated on a week basis. They are Saint-Josse with 58 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Saint-Gilles (54), Anderlecht (53) and Schaerbeek (53).

    UPDATE: As of Sunday, Saint-Josse and Saint-Gilles drop below the 50 mark, to 40 and 48 respectively. Anderlecht has risen to 67, while Schaerbeek fell to 51, and Berchem-Saint-Agathe joined the ranks of over-50s at 52. The incidence for Brussels as a whole has gone up from 40.9 to 43, the level cited yesterday by Professor Dirk Devroey (see below). 

    Another two communes, Ganshoren and Molenbeek, are flirting with the limit, with incidences of 48 and 47 respectively.

    Yesterday 18 of the 19 communes in the capital had passed the national incidence limit of 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. That figure is used to identify local outbreaks so that action can be taken. Only Watermael-Boitsfort remained under 20.

    The 50 limit was introduced for the whole region, and has the immediate effect of an obligation to wear a mask in public.

    Meanwhile Sciensano puts the incidence for Brussels region as a whole at 40.9. That figure is rather lower than the incidence of 43 calculated by Dirk Devroey, a professor at the Free University VUB who collects more recent figures than Sciensano.

    Brussels is registering the strongest growth of any of the regions, but it is slower now than it was. In the past week the increase in the number of cases was 84%; the week prior to that saw an increase of 150%.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times