Belgians returning from Catalonia should be quarantined, says De Block
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Belgians returning from Catalonia should be quarantined, says De Block

Credit: Belga

Belgians returning from the Spanish region of Catalonia should go into quarantine pending their test results following news that the region put 200,000 people in lockdown.

Federal Public Health Minister Maggie De Block gave instructions that people who return to Belgium from Catalonia by car to ask their GP for a test, she told VRT.

“Until they have the results of that test, they should avoid contact with others and stay inside. That is really essential. Anyone returning by plane will see people from Saniport at the gate who will give the same advice,” she said.

There will be no obligation, because “there is no legal basis for that,” De Block told Het Nieuwsblad. “However, we really have to see that we are not in danger here again. I want to insist that this is a joint responsibility,” she added.

In the region of Segrià around the city of Lérida, a significant increase in the number of infections was reported. The Government of the Autonomous Region of Catalonia decided to place about 200,000 people back in lockdown on Saturday to prevent a new peak.

Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst wondered on Twitter whether any Belgians have recently returned from the region, as they “should be quarantined (and tested for Covid-19 at the slightest symptom),” he tweeted.

Van Ranst hoped that quarantine and testing would become compulsory. “This could be a situation like in February and March: how many Belgians were in Northern Italy at that time? And how many are there now in Catalonia? We do not know, and then it becomes very difficult to implement policies,” he added.

“We are making the same mistake we did in February,” said Van Ranst. “We should better stay home, these trips do not seem vital to me. Now we know,” he added.

“We thought it was on the early side to open the borders again, but it was decided on a European level. And at the same time, there is a list of countries that are allowed to come here. That, too, is too early,” Van Ranst said. “Canada does not allow anyone yet, we think that is the smartest attitude at the moment,” he added.

He also called on Foreign Affairs to warn of the new peak in the travel advice for people going to Catalonia. The government department has announced that the colour for the Segrià region has changed from green to orange, meaning that Belgians are no longer allowed to travel there.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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