Belgium tightens curbs but avoids blockade when COVID cases peak

On December 3, 2021, people wearing protective masks walk down the street in accordance with government regulations imposed to contain the epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brussels, Belgium. REUTERS / Johanna Geron

December 3, 2021

Philip Brenkinsop

Brussels (Reuters) – Belgium tightened coronavirus restrictions on Friday for the third straight week to combat the worst COVID-19 cases surge in Europe, but strict regulations imposed on neighboring Netherlands or Austria Did not reach.

“The series of infectious diseases that are hitting our country cannot continue at the current pace,” Prime Minister Alexander de Crew said at a news conference.

De Crew said the mask obligation applies from the age of six in the most increasing cases among children. The current requirements for wearing a mask are for people over the age of 10.

Elementary school will be closed a week ago on Christmas and New Year holidays, junior high school will move to a hybrid system, and half of the classes will be held from home.

In contrast, the bars and restaurants in Belgium, home to EU institutions and NATO, are open until 11 pm, six hours later than in the Netherlands.

De Croo acknowledged that Belgium has the highest infection rate in Europe. According to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, only Slovakia and the Czech Republic have high average 14-day per capita rates.

However, more than 1 in 50 people have been infected in the last two weeks, with case fatality rates slightly above the EU average.

“There is only one reason for this, which is the particularly high immunization rate in our country,” said De Croo, adding that about 4 million Belgians should have been boosted by the end of the year. ..

Experts at the health agency Sciencesano said Belgium seems to have reached its peak infectious diseases and hospitalizations, although the number of patients in the intensive care unit could reach 1,000 within a week.

“It’s not clear if a sharp drop is expected after this, or if it stays on the plateau,” said virologist Stephen Van Gukto.

(Report by Philip Blenkinsop, edited by John Chalmers and Kirsten Donovan)

Belgium tightens curbs but avoids blockade when COVID cases peak

Source link Belgium tightens curbs but avoids blockade when COVID cases peak

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