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Coronavirus: 886 confirmed cases in Belgium

Virologist Steven Van Gucht and ministry spokesperson Emmanuel André © Belga

Belgium has seen 197 new cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) confirmed since yesterday’s figure was announced, the health ministry said.

The total number of infections since the outbreak of the disease has now reached 886. The number of fatalities remains at four.

Of the new cases, 137 were in Flanders, 28 in Wallonia and 27 in Brussels, with the location of five other cases unknown.

We are seeing an increase in the number of cases on our territory, which will grow further in the coming days,” the ministry said.

We remind you that it is extremely important to stay at home as soon as you are ill (fever, cough, breathing problems) and to contact your family doctor immediately. We also advise to follow the recommendations published on the [coronavirus] site, so that everyone can contribute to slowing down the progress of the epidemic and to protecting vulnerable groups of people.”

With today’s numbers, the total number of confirmed cases reported since the shutdown measures came into force at midnight on Friday amounts to 330. However those cases are likely to have contracted the infection at least a week ago, which means that even if the isolation measures were followed fully by everyone, the number of cases would be expected to continue growing at least until next weekend.

What happens after that, depends very much on how diligently the public take the precautions recommended. A reminder:

Basic hygiene:

• If you have flu-like symptoms, stay at home.

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

Sneeze and blow your nose in a tissue. Use each tissue only once and throw it away immediately in a covered rubbish bin.

You don’t have a tissue? Sneeze or cough into your elbow.

To slow down the progress of the disease:

• Avoid shaking hands, kissing or cuddling the persons you meet

Pay special attention to people who are considered as being at risk, such as elderly people over 65, people with diabetes or with a heart, lung or kidney disease and people with a weakened immune system. Pregnant women and babies under six months are no longer considered a risk group.

Children do not belong to those groups of people at risk, but they can easily transmit the virus. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid contacts between children and elderly people.

Try keeping a distance from others when you are in a crowded place.

Avoid contact with persons who are visibly ill and keep a distance from them.

If you feel sick:

• Stay home

Call your doctor and report your symptoms. Do not go to the waiting room or the emergency department. The doctor will determine by telephone whether you can stay ill at home or should go to hospital.

For more information: 0800 14 689 (calls are free).

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times