Patient suspected of being infected by Corona virus in Brussels is cleared
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    Patient suspected of being infected by Corona virus in Brussels is cleared

    © Paul-Henri Verlooy/Belga

    Belgian media are reporting a patient has been admitted to St-Pierre hospital in central Brussels, showing symptoms of the Corona virus. However the health ministry has confirmed the man does not have the virus.

    The disease has already led to 41 deaths in China, the lockdown of several cities and the complete closure of the city of Wuhan, the place where the virus first made its appearance.

    A warning about the disease and its symptoms has been issued to doctors in Belgium as the cases approach closer to Belgium’s borders. Three cases have been confirmed in France, two in Paris and one in Bordeaux.

    The symptoms are described as shortness of breath, cough and fever – symptoms common to many different causes. The man suspected of being infected with the virus, however, had recently returned from China, thus adding to suspicion. But when blood samples were taken and tested at the university hospital in Leuven, it was found that the Corona virus was not present.

    The St-Pierre hospital has been named by the federal ministry of health as the reference centre for any apparent appearance of the disease. The ministry circular sent to GPs described the symptoms and adds, “It is recommended that travellers who present with fever accompanied by respiratory symptoms during their trip or in the two weeks following their return from China contact their doctor by phone and mention their travels”.

    Patients presenting with a suspected viral infection – and with the appropriate travel history – should be placed in isolation if possible, and otherwise transport by special ambulance to St-Pierre. Blood tests are to be carried out at Leuven. Anyone who has been in contact with the subject is to be inspected medically. They will not be placed in isolation, but will continue to be inspected twice daily. If they develop symptoms, they will then come under the isolation protocol for the original patient.

    The Belgian foreign affairs ministry is aware of 11 of their nationals present in China in the area affected by the outbreak. All have been contacted by email.

    We are following the situation, and have advised our people to be careful, to avoid animal markets, animals living and dead, the consumption of raw meat and contact with sick people,” a ministry spokesperson told Le Vif. “They are also advised to observe proper hygiene rules, and to consult a doctor if the slightest symptom shows itself. The situation is changing rapidly, so we advise everyone travelling to China to follow the instructions of local authorities and the World Health Organisation.”

    For anyone travelling to China, the foreign affairs ministry has advised that any trip to Hubei province, where Wuhan is situated, is not recommended. Anyone travelling elsewhere in the country should respect local advice.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times