Marc Van Ranst: 'Brussels in European top ten for fastest-growing Covid-19 clusters'

Marc Van Ranst: 'Brussels in European top ten for fastest-growing Covid-19 clusters'
Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst address reporters. Credit: © Belga

Brussels is one of ten European regions recording the fastest-growing surge of new coronavirus cases in past weeks, state virologist Marc Van Ranst said, urging authorities to not let their guard down against the virus.

From 7 to 14 August, Brussels registered 997 new infections, one of the fastest weekly spikes across Europe, according to a weekly mapping of the virus' spread through Europe published by Innovation Origins and shared by Van Ranst on Twitter.

"The politicians of the Brussels-Capital Region should consider how they can either better enforce or tighten up the corona measures," Van Ranst said.

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In the ranking, the Belgian capital was up there with hard-hit areas in Spain such as the wider Madrid region and the Basque Country and came just behind the Southeastern region of Romania.

While the rapid emergence of new coronavirus clusters had seen authorities zero-in in on Antwerp, the Flemish province ranked three spots lower than Brussels, in what Van Ranst attributed to the fast and decisive measures adopted by local authorities.

"Antwerp, for instance, imposed a curfew," Van Ranst told Bruzz, adding that, while the late-night curfew imposed four weeks ago by Governor Cathy Berx should not be the go-to measure, authorities in Brussels should take the rise "more seriously" and adjust measures accordingly.

"I sometimes walk around Brussels and can see for myself that, for example, the mandatory use of face mask is not respected enough," he said.

In the latest round of measures announced for Brussels, regional leaders stuck to imposing a blanket rule to use a face mask in public in all 19 municipalities, stopping short of imposing stricter measures but urging the public to adhere to existing rules.

Monday marks the second time Van Ranst has come out in favour of authorities approaching a tougher stance in Brussels, which he said accounted for half of all new hospitalisations registered across Belgium.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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