Yellow to orange: Brussels mayors agree to coordinate changes to school risk scenarios

Yellow to orange: Brussels mayors agree to coordinate changes to school risk scenarios
© Belga

Brussels mayors have agreed to act in a coordinated manner regarding any potential changes to coronavirus measures applicable to schools in the Belgian capital.

The decision follows a report by the Risk Assessment Group (RAG), which on Thursday issued out a list of 26 municipalities with heightened coronavirus risks which included all 19 municipalities of Brussels.

The RAG's report comes as schools in Belgium wrap up the first week of the return to school under code-yellow, the second-lowest risk-level in a nationwide strategy to manage the risks of returning to on-site teaching amid the pandemic.

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The report said that the number of new coronavirus infections remained high in the 26 municipalities, sparking concerns that schools there may soon have to move up to the orange scenario, which entails a cranking up of security measures and a return to distance learning.

"If the situation calls for it, all 19 mayors of Brussels will consult each other and roll-out potential measures in concentration with each other," Murielle Deleu, cabinet spokesperson for Saint-Josse, said in a phone statement.

Deleu said that the decision meant that no steps towards a potential orange-code scenario had yet been taken in Brussels and that, in line with the RAG's advice, the mayor's first move would be to assess the situation together.

The measure was promoted by officials at the regional level in an effort to avoid having a hotchpotch of different colour-scenarios throughout schools in the capital, Deleu added.

According to officials at the federal level, the majority of new infections in Belgium are being recorded in Brussels and Antwerp, who are the main drivers of the evolution of nationwide figures.

In a press conference on Friday, virologist Yves-Van Laethem, Francophone official for national health institute Sciensano, unveiled a new alarm system which he said would underpin decisions taken at lower levels of government.

The new alarm system is made up of six levels ranging from a "no alarm" to "alarm level 4," and includes a "pre-alarm" level depending on the incidence of new coronavirus cases (which go from 0 or sporadic cases to over 100 cases).

Van Laethem said that, based on the new system, Belgium was currently at alarm level 2, while Antwerp was at alarm level 3 and Brussels at level 4.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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