The country is in shutdown, the number of cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases continues to rise and the peak number of cases is far from being reached. Yet somehow, there is some good news.
• The reception centre for the homeless, ‘t Eilandje in Brussels and Wallonia, will remain open, although services will be adapted to take account of government instructions. Homeless people will be received in small groups, and every effort made to avoid unnecessary contacts. Washing and sanitary provisions will continue according to the health advice issued.
• Brussels health minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) has announced additional capacity for sick homeless people in a building in the Rue de Trêves in the EU quarter. The building was being held in reserve, and will now be operated by the Red Cross.
• Staff employed by Delhaize supermarket chain will work out of hours to keep shelves stocked, as some amount of panic-buying is expected to continue for a time. According to company spokesperson Roel Dekelver, local managers will decide whether shelf-stacking should take place in the evening, overnight or in the early morning.
Meanwhile acting premier Sophie Wilmès repeated the message that there is no need whatever for panic-buying, as retailers have more than enough stock for everyone.
• Three weeks of minimal human contact and little entertainment will be good for the psyche, according to psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter. “Let’s not complain,” he writes in Het Laatste Nieuws. “There will be things in the coming weeks that have me worried. But the population getting bored is not one of them.”
• Social media is showing its good side. A number of Facebook groups have sprung up to offer help and solutions for those who are less able to weather the shutdown, and those who want to help out.
• The non-profit Zorg-Saam, which runs 20 or so nursing homes in East Flanders has launched an initiative for members of the public to put pen to paper to write to seniors who are currently being deprived for medical reasons of visits from their relatives. Letters, poems and children’s drawing are welcome. Details here.