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07 oct. 2020 | 02h23 UTC

Belgium: Authorities to tighten COVID-19 restrictions from October 9 /update 24

Belgium Alerte de sécurité

Belgian authorities to tighten COVID-19 restrictions from October 9; follow authority directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 7/10/2020, 12h00 until 28/10/2020, 11h59 (Europe/Brussels). COUNTRY/REGION Belgium

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Event

Belgian authorities announced that beginning Friday, October 9, some coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-restrictions will be tightened due to a rise in reported cases in recent days. From Friday, bars will have to close at 23:00 (local time) instead of 01:00, with only four people allowed per table. The number of people that individuals are allowed to have close contact with outside of their household has been lowered to three (previously five). Additionally, no more than four people should be invited inside a home or gather outside. There have been more than 2300 infections per day during the past week, according to government data, and an average of 81 people hospitalized per day. The number of deaths is also rising, with an average of 10 per day.

On September 23, the government largely eased restrictions, despite a recent increase in reported cases in the country. Individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or people who have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will be required to self-isolate for seven days. On October 1, face coverings were no longer required in crowded outdoor public spaces unless specifically directed by local authorities. Face masks still have to be worn in shops, cinemas, public transport, and other enclosed public spaces.

On September 25, a ban on travel to countries or regions with high infection rates, or 'Red Zones', was replaced by strong discouragement not to travel to these areas. Arrivals from these areas must take a COVID-19 test on arrival and quarantine for seven days, before taking a second test. Full details on travel restrictions can be found here.

As of Tuesday, October 6, there have been 132,203 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belgium and 10,078 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:  

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

 

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