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Belgium in Brief: The Curve Slowly Rises In Brussels

Today, we look at Brussels (because today Brussels also looks at Brussels)

Leading the news today is the regional security council meeting in Brussels which has gathered regional authorities and mayors of the 19 municipalities to discuss measures to curb the rise of new infections.

This meeting comes as new coronavirus infections are being detected at a higher rate in the Brussels-Capital Region than in any other part of Belgium, with figures published by Sciensano showing an average increase of 148% in the past seven days.

The number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, or incidence rate, spells trouble for the Belgian capital, according to experts.  “On Monday we were at 36 in Brussels, yesterday at 37 and today we are at 42. The curve is slowly rising, but it is rising,” said Professor Dirk Devroey, a flu expert who has been tracking the emergence of new coronavirus cases. More on that here.

As for the results of the security council meeting, a press conference scheduled for around noon will reveal more – so once we know what this means for Brussels, so will you.

So, while we wait… what else is in the news?

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Belgian average settles at 533 new coronavirus infections per day

An average of 532.9 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by Sciensano on Thursday.

At the same time, the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants, measured over the past two weeks from 20 July to 2 August, was 54, compared to the 36.5 per 100,000 reported last weekend.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 71,158 – 510 more than yesterday. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus. Read More

2. Man thrown out of Belgian IKEA for secretly shopping with wife

A Belgian couple has made headlines in the country after one of them was asked to leave an IKEA in Ghent for trying to sneak around coronavirus bubble rules.

Hendrik Wallijn discovered the hard way that the flat-pack furniture chain is strictly enforcing the rules after a plan to pretend he didn’t know his wife while shopping ended with him being asked to leave.

IKEA currently only allows one customer per household, in line with the current government rules, which can carry fines of  €250 for the offender and €750 for the shopkeeper if they are broken. Read more.


3. Antwerp eases Coronavirus measures, keeps curfew

Antwerp province will officially begin to slightly relax coronavirus fighting measures, Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx (CD&V) announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The changes, which mostly centre around fitness clubs and group sports, also see slight adjustments to mask-wearing ahead of the approaching heatwave. Read them here.

4. Former interior minister argues Antwerp curfew is illegal

Johan Vande Lanotte, a former federal home affairs minister, has described the curfew imposed by provincial governor Cathy Berx (CD&V) as illegal.

Vande Lanotte is a constitutional law professor at the University of Ghent, as well as one of Belgium’s most highly respected politicians, having been president of the Flemish socialist party, mayor of Ostend and mentor to many a junior politician.

“A ban on gatherings prohibits what is no longer allowed. A curfew prohibits what is no longer allowed, and much more. There is no public health risk whatever when someone wants to take a walk alone or with their partner at midnight,” he said. Read more.

5. Partner confesses to killing former Aalst mayor in her sleep

The former mayor of Aalst was murdered by her partner while she was still in bed asleep for reasons which the perpetrator cannot explain, his lawyer said.

Jurgen Demesmaeker, who has a previous record of violence against women, told officials in a preliminary hearing he woke up on Tuesday morning, grabbed a hammer and hit his partner, Ilse Uyttersprot, on the head while she was still sleeping. Read More.

6. Coronavirus: hundreds quarantined after outbreak in Belgian meatpacking plant

Hundreds of workers in a meatpacking plant in the Flemish city of Staden have been placed in quarantine after a coronavirus cluster was detected in the factory.

Around 225 workers were sent into self-isolation after 18 staff members of the Westvlees meatpacking plant in West Flanders tested positive for the new coronavirus. Read More.

7. Germany lists Antwerp province as high-risk destination

The province of Antwerp is the latest addition to Germany’s list high-risk travel destinations where there is an “increased risk” of contracting the new coronavirus.

The Flemish province is so far the only area in Belgium listed as a high-risk destination by Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for public health, which discourages all unnecessary travel to the area.

Anyone who is entering Germany and who has been to a risk area within the last 14 days “may be subject to a quarantine obligation,” depending on the regulations of federal states, the institute wrote. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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