Belgian coronavirus experts go on ‘silent strike’ against relaxed rules

Belgian coronavirus experts go on ‘silent strike’ against relaxed rules
Credit: Belga

Several Belgian experts will go on “silent strike” this weekend, in a protest against the relaxed coronavirus measures and politicians who often hide behind the experts, they said on Friday.

Experts such as virologist Marc Van Ranst, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe, biostatisticians Geert Molenberghs and Niel Hens and epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme, will not give interviews until at least Monday, and instead refer to the politicians in charge for additional explanations.

“It is now up to the politicians to give clear signals. To us, but above all, to the people,” several experts told Het Nieuwsblad. “They must now be held to account in the television studios. Not us.”

In a reaction to VRT, Van Ranst stressed that the strike is not directed against the media, but has to send a clear signal to politicians.

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Immediately after the country’s National Security Council announced the relaxations on Wednesday, many experts immediately criticised the decision.

In a joint blog post on the same day, the same experts spoke out against the relaxations and said that a “just turn the curve around, and then we will see”approach was not good enough, as it only leads to quick relaxations again.

Van Ranst reacted disappointed and said that, as the figures continued to go up, it was “certainly not the time” to loosen the rules, while many others, from citizens to university rectors, also showed their displeasure.

“Either politics decides that we can set up a separate body, purely scientific, and give our views on the virus in the future,” one expert said. “Or we go solo, and start communicating with the population ourselves in order to inform them correctly.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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