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Belgium in Brief: A Storm Is Coming

Credit: Belga

As the heatwave seems to be on its last legs in Belgium, the weather forecast predicts storms as soon as it ends, possibly starting today.

Belgians should expect thunderstorms, with possible hail, and winds of up to 100 km/h over the next couple of days.

“The storms will likely be very local,” said weather reporter Frank Deboosere. “In one municipality, the hail can make dents in cars, while people can continue to barbecue a few municipalities away. Very typical for a summer storm.”

However, it will be difficult to predict when and where exactly they will take place. “I do not want to scare anyone, but when the thunderstorm starts, pull the plugs and make a backup of your computer files right away. If lightning strikes then, you will not lose everything,” said Deboosere.

In other news, health officials are worried that the coronavirus situation in Brussels is heading in the direction of Antwerp, while Antwerp has announced some relaxations of its curfew and strict measures.

So, here are some of the top stories from around the country to get you up to speed.

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. Coronavirus: experts split over obligatory mask

The obligation to wear a face mask in public comes into force in all of the Brussels-Capital Region this morning, but not all experts are agreed on the measure’s utility.

The obligation to wear a mask in all public places comes as the region as a whole has a reported incidence of new coronavirus cases greater than 50 cases per 100,000 population.

The measure covers all 19 municipalities of the region, despite the fact that not all of them have exceeded the limit. Read More.

2. 100 km/h winds expected in Belgium once heatwave ends

Credit: Cecira Araújo/Wallpaperflare

Belgians should be prepared for thunderstorms with winds up to 100 km/hour once the heatwave ends, according to weather reporter Frank Deboosere.

“The storms will likely be very local,” Deboosere told Het Nieuwsblad. “In one municipality, the hail can make dents in cars, while people can continue to barbecue a few municipalities away. Very typical for a summer storm.”

With the storms, wind gusts of up to 100 km/hour are also possible over the next couple of days. Local thunderstorms are expected to develop in the east of the country, and will then gradually spread towards the centre, according to the RMI. Read more.

3. Belgian average stabilises at roughly 600 new coronavirus cases per day

An average of 601 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to the latest figures by Sciensano on Thursday.

The trend of new infections per day has risen by 13% over the 7-day period from 3 to 9 August. The number of new cases is still rising, but the increase is smaller than it was yesterday.

For a few days now, the increase in the number of new cases seems to have stabilised, as there was an increase of 12% on Wednesday, 11% on Tuesday and 16% on Monday. Read More.

4. Antwerp eases curfew as rate of new Covid-19 infections recedes

© Belga

Antwerp has moved to relax a curfew imposed to curb a rise in new coronavirus infections and ease restrictions on businesses, with officials touting a rapid drop in infection numbers.

Antwerp Governor Cathy Berx announced that the late-night curfew imposed in late July will be shortened by three hours, with residents required to be indoors from 1:30 AM to 5:00 AM.

“The viral curve in the province is slowing down faster than anywhere else in the country,” Berx said announcing the adjustments on Wednesday. Read more.

5. Brussels could reach Antwerp infection level in two weeks, Crisis Centre says

If the increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the Brussels-Capital Region continues to grow like has in the past week, the situation will likely become as severe as in Antwerp, health officials said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“The Brussels Capital-Region has seen a large increase. If it continues like this, we expect that the region will reach the infection level of Antwerp within 2 weeks,” Van Gucht said. Read more.

6. Belgium now shares coronavirus reproduction number per province

From now on, national health institute Sciensano will calculate and publish the R-number (reproduction number) for the new coronavirus per province, officials announced on Wednesday.

Previously, the R-number — which indicates how many new people an infected person infects — was only shared on a national level, but as the increase in new infections differs greatly per province, the value will also be calculated at a more localised level, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said. Read more.

7. Man shot eight times in night shootout in Brussels

An unidentified man was left seriously injured after being shot eight times during a shooting that rocked the Ixelles municipality of Brussels on Tuesday evening.

Police said that the man, born in 1993, came to the police station by himself despite his severe injuries and was rushed to the hospital.

The shootout broke out at around 00:40 AM in Rue Juliette Wytsman in Ixelles, which is near the bar and restaurant district of Flagey and where the offices of federal health institute Sciensano are also located. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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