Belgium in Brief: New Measures On Thursday?

Belgium in Brief: New Measures On Thursday?
Credit: Belga/Google Street View

As the four-week period in which Belgium's current measures to push back the rising coronavirus figures is slowly coming to an end, the country's National Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss the next step.

Federal and regional leaders and experts on the coronavirus task force are set to gather on Thursday to discuss the next steps forward, the cabinet of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès told several Belgian outlets.

The Council is expected to decide whether the reduction of social bubbles to five fixed people each week will be maintained in the coming days or modified in any way, and the event sector is also hoping for some clarity.

Even though the number of new cases has started decreasing at a national level, the figures in the Brussels-Capital Region are rising sharply, to the point that federal experts doubt that the general face mask obligation is sufficient.

In the meantime, the authorities warned all Belgians who are still planning on going abroad that every trip comes with risks, the country's new committee on its colonial past was slammed by historians, and a young man was caught showing his butt on Google Street View.

With that in mind, 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. 20-year-old dies from Covid-19 in Belgium

A 20-year-old woman passed away from the effects of Covid-19 in Flanders, making her one of the youngest people in Belgium to have died after contracting the novel virus.

The 20-year-old’s death was confirmed by federal health institute Sciensano, with officials saying that it was “exceptional” for someone so young to die of the disease, De Standaard reports.

The woman, so far unidentified, is said to have suffered from chronic underlying conditions, a health group defined as having an increased risk to develop serious complications if they become sick from the virus. Read more.

2. Quarantine or isolation: what is the difference?

Credit: Pikist

As the terms ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’ are being used interchangeably in relation to a possible coronavirus infection, but do not quite mean the same thing, health officials explained the difference during a press conference on Monday.

People are most infectious just before they show symptoms, so you should not wait for the results of a test to take action. “Every hour and every day counts in the race against the virus,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.

3. Belgian average drops to 533 new coronavirus infections per day

An average of 533 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 Tuesday.

The trend of new infections per day has decreased by 14% over the 7-day period from 8 to 14 August.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, is 78,534. 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.

4. Belgians still going abroad ‘are taking a risk,’ Crisis Centre warns

Credit: Belga

People who are still planning on travelling abroad this summer should realise that, in the current circumstances, they are always taking a risk, the National Crisis Centre stressed during a press conference on Monday.

The authorities are calling on all travellers returning to Belgium now that the summer holidays are coming to an end to assume their responsibilities in the interests of public health.

“The number of coronavirus cases across Europe is still increasing, and there is a real chance that the colour code of your holiday destination will change during your stay,” spokesperson Yves Stevens said. “Realise that, in the current circumstances, you are always taking a risk.” Read more.

5. Brussels face mask obligation not sufficient, federal experts say

Brussels’ regional government’s decision to impose face masks is not a sufficient measure to counter the coronavirus adequately, according to a report by the Celeval expert group, which the daily De Tijd was able to read.

Celeval, which assists the government in deciding the measures to be taken to fight the virus, said it was concerned about the epidemiological situation in Brussels and “considers the generalisation of the obligation to wear masks as the only measure to be insufficient,” it said. Read more.

6. Historians slam Belgium’s new committee on colonial past

Belgium has sidelined historians and colonial experts from a parliamentary working group tasked with revising its colonisation of the Congo, according to over two dozen historians.

In an open letter published on Monday, 58 historians expressed their surprise at the fact that the committee meant to review Belgium’s colonial actions in the Congo failed to include sufficient experts in the matter.

Belgium’s “eagerness” to set up the committee will see it reach political conclusions which will be taken on the basis of incomplete or incorrect historical facts, ultimately hurting its legitimacy, the authors wrote. Read more.

7. ‘Best prank this year’: Belgian man shows butt on Google Street View

A Belgian man decided to play a prank when he saw a Google Street View car last summer and can now be seen showing his naked butt to the camera.

People searching for the address Bergstraat 1 in the municipality Meeuwen-Gruitrode in the Limburg province will not only see the house and some of the street around it, but also the naked butt of a local young man, Jens Vrolijks.

It was a deliberate action, he said on Radio 2 on Monday. “I saw the car coming from far away and thought, now I have to do something that will last for eternity,” Vrolijks said. Read more.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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