In a video message, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has addressed the population on Wednesday evening, stressing the importance of unity in the fight against the coronavirus.
"The situation in our country is very critical," De Croo started his message, referring to the rising infection figures, hospitalisations and deaths across the country.
"The first and only priority today is to assist our healthcare providers and hospitals, and turn the curve around," he said. "The rise of the virus must stop."
He stressed the seriousness of the measures that have already been announced, which he called "painful" and "serious restrictions of our freedom," even going as far as to call all the measures a "partial lockdown."
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"We are all suspending a large part of our lives, in order to save the lives of others," he said, adding that for that to happen, consistency and clarity are needed.
"Any infection we can prevent must be prevented," De Croo said, adding that the Ministerial Decree with the new measures - which will apply to the whole country - will be published tonight, and go into force at midnight, instead of on Friday.
"The last thing we need today is division," he stressed, adding that "the only battle we have to fight is against the virus."
The virus knows no borders or differences between people, according to De Croo, which is why he made a specific appeal to young people. "Not because the life of a 24-year-old is worth more than that of a 74-year-old, but because too many young people still think this virus does not concern them."
The golden rules remain the most important weapon we have, De Croo said, adding that the rules will be enforced. Everyone must use their common sense. "We are putting our lives in each other's hands."
The measures should also be followed in people's private lives, where they cannot be controlled by the authorities. "These are moral choices, deciding on life and death, on our common future. And there is only one good choice: choose each other."
Additionally, De Croo announced that the same mistake made in the past will not be made again, which is why the measures will not be relaxed too early. "Relaxing too soon only makes the problems worse," he said.
Lastly, the Prime Minister explicitly addresses the healthcare sector. "The whole country is counting on you," he said. "We need to hold on to each other more than ever, because to defeat this virus, we need each and every one of you."
The Brussels Times