Belgium needs ‘hotel quarantines’ following Brazilian variant, says Van Ranst
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Belgium needs ‘hotel quarantines’ following Brazilian variant, says Van Ranst

Credit: Belga

Belgium should require a ‘hotel quarantine’ for travellers coming from certain countries, to prevent the Brazilian coronavirus variant from spreading, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

Travellers coming to Belgium from Brazil or Portugal should be put in hotel quarantine to make sure they do not infect others with the Brazilian variant, Van Ranst told De Morgen on Wednesday morning.

“Non-essential travel is already prohibited in our country, but you can still find excuses to travel to those countries,” Van Ranst said. “We have strict measures, but the gaps are still big.”

Van Ranst’s proposal follows the introduction of such a hotel quarantine in the United Kingdom on Monday.

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UK nationals returning to the UK from one of the 33 countries on the red list (including Brazil, Portugal and South Africa), will have to spend ten days in quarantine in a hotel, which will cost £1,750 (about €2,000), and travellers have to pay for themselves.

Currently, at least five cases of infection with the Brazilian coronavirus variant (P.1) have been detected in Belgium, which has experts worried as it seems like it can re-infect people who previously contracted another mutation.

At least one of the people infected with the Brazilian strain had been in contact with someone who visited Brazil in December 2020, and was “probably infected via that route,” according to Inge Neven, of the Brussels health inspectorate.

According to Professor Guy Baele of the Rega Institute for Medical Research (KU Leuven), not much data is known about the variant yet, but it falls into the category of the South African variant.

“There is some concern that vaccines against these variants would be less effective, but that remains to be seen,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times