Several Belgian tourists returning from Italy have been expressing their concern since Monday on social networks about the lack of health checks on their arrival at Belgian airports.
The FPS Public Health, however, has issued assurances that the situation is under control and calls for calm.
In the past days, several villages in northern Italy have been quarantined following the rapid spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in the region. At least 220 cases have been confirmed and seven deaths have occurred in Italy so far.
While Charleroi airport is educating its staff about the symptoms of the virus and the hygiene measures to be taken, travellers returning from La Botte are surprised that they were not checked when they disembarked.
Questioned by Belga, a spokesman for the airport explained that he is in permanent contact with the FPS Public Health, which issues instructions according to the evolution of the situation. So far, the Ministry has not issued any instructions for systematic screening of passengers arriving from any part of the world.
Staff at Brussels Airport in Zaventem have already undergone awareness-building sessions on hygiene precautions. The international airport has also not taken any additional measures for checking on passengers for the moment.
The FPS Public Health confirmed this statement, adding that the situation is the same as for passengers arriving from China.
If a passenger:
Falls ill during the flight, crew will assess and report.
Becomes ill within 14 days, they should inform a doctor and isolate themself.
Virologist Marc Van Ranst says there is no reason to be overly concerned if tourists have not visited or stayed in the Italian municipalities now under quarantine. Moreover, given the means of transport available between the two countries (plane, train, bus, car), it is simply impossible to check all the tourists who have stayed in the area in question.
If people have stayed in one of the offending areas, the head of the laboratory relies on their civic-mindedness to make themselves known and thus prevent any slippage.