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Coronavirus in Belgium: schools, work, recommendations to follow

Thein Belgium there is a second case of infection with the new coronavirus, a patient recently returned “from a region of France where some infections” with Covid-19 have been observed. The person is hospitalized at the University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA).

According to specialists, new cases should inevitably arise in the coming days in Belgium.

The contaminated person

The person is in relatively good health, said De Block, refusing to confirm that it was a woman, as indicated by Dr Erika Vlieghe, a doctor in charge of treatment at UZA.

“It means that we are entering a new phase. We knew we were going to have more cases, “she added.

The patient who stays at UZA (Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen) returned on February 26 from France, from a region in the north of France “where there are cases” – and therefore probably the department of Oise, at north of Paris.

“She is in good shape” and suffers from “a kind of cold”. “So far, his health has been favorable,” said Dr. Vlieghe.

Doctors at the Flemish Health Agency are tracing all the contacts the person has had in recent days. “If necessary, these contacts will be tested,” the authorities said in a statement.

In early February, a first infection was noted in one of the Belgian returnees from the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province (central China), home of the Covid-2019 epidemic. This Belgian national had been able to leave Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels on 15 February after being placed in total isolation there and undergoing tests which had proved negative.


In case of risk

If the child has no symptoms, there is no isolation measure to take so far. The child can therefore be received normally at the crèche or school and should not be tested. The new coronavirus case announced this Sunday does not change anything in this perspective, said Maggie De Block. Schools will be open Monday. Here are some tips for back to school.

If one of the parents, or close contact with the child, is a confirmed case of Covid-19, the child should be kept isolated at home and contact should be made with the family doctor. The duration of confinement will be determined by the medical inspector from the Region’s infectious disease surveillance service.

If the child returns from an affected area, the ONE invites the reception centers, schools and parents to be attentive to the development of possible symptoms linked to Covid-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) during First 14 days of the child’s return.

In case of symptoms

Finally, if the child returns from an area where the coronavirus is rife and presents symptoms or if the child becomes sick within 14 days of his return, his parents must keep him at home, contact the doctor of family over the phone and mention the child’s travel history and symptoms. The family doctor can assess the situation and take appropriate measures.

In this case, the school or the reception center concerned must inform its reference doctor (or the ONE health referent) so that measures can be taken within the establishment if necessary, in agreement with AVIQ. (Walloon Agency for Quality Living, in charge of Prevention and Promotion in Health) or COCOM (Common Community Commission) in Brussels.

School trips

Regarding school trips, the office of the Minister of Education, Caroline Désir (PS), spoke with the FPS Foreign Affairs: in areas where many cases of coronavirus have been identified, she calls for caution but does not recommend the cancellation of any trip.

For any additional information and to keep abreast of developments, parents are invited to consult the site https: //www.info-coronavirus.be/fr/. For health professionals, the Sciensano site is available to them: https: //epidemio.wiv-isp.be/ID/Pages/2019-nCoV.aspx


The Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB) asked employers on Sunday to adopt a “position of increased caution” after the first cases of contamination with coronavirus in the country. The organization calls on its members to remain “alert and vigilant” and to contact the occupational doctor directly in the event of suspected infection.

In the event of suspected contamination, the employer may examine with the general practitioner whether other measures are necessary and inform the public health services thereof. In terms of hygiene, it is advisable to follow the advice provided by the official authorities, notes the FEB in a press release.

In the event of a significant impact on businesses, everything has been done to help them through the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure, for example. The system is also usable in the event that workers are stranded overseas or placed in quarantine for a period of time after returning from an infected area, the FEB said.

In the event of hospitalization of an employee abroad, he does not fall under temporary unemployment due to force majeure. He is then unable to work and will fall under INAMI legislation, the FEB further specifies.

The FEB explains that it is monitoring the situation closely. Companies can also find all the reliable and useful sources on the federation website.

For her part, the Flemish Minister for the Economy Hilde Crevits (CD&V) invites employers to come together in the coming days in a working group in order to face the economic consequences linked to the epidemic of coronavirus, a she indicated Sunday afternoon at the microphone of VTM NEWS. It wishes to inform companies of the temporary support measures already possible and possibly take additional measures if necessary.

Who to test?

People are tested at the slightest indication of infection. “We can therefore immediately intervene if necessary and counter the spread of the virus in our country as much as possible. The reference laboratory can carry out the tests day and night, ”assured Ms. De Block.

“Our procedures are evolving. We are trying to prevent the virus from spreading here, “she said.

“This will continue for the next few weeks and months,” however warned the head of the laboratory that performs the tests and a virologist at KU Leuven, Dr. Marc Van Ranst.

“We can expect one or more cases in the coming days”, with the return from a carnival vacation, added for his part to the press the president of the scientific committee on the coronavirus and virologist at Sciensano, Steven Van Gucht.

Wearing a mask or not?

With regard to the more specific questions of the availability of FFP2 type protective masks for health professionals, the federal government confirms that Belgium has integrated into a European public market. Belgium also places specific orders.

The wearing of the mask is reserved in priority for health professionals and those infected, the government recalls.

What does the government do ?

A concertation committee bringing together the federal and federated entities will take place this Monday morning to examine the measures to be taken to deal with the spread of the new coronavirus Covid-19, announced the office of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès after ‘a meeting of the Restricted Ministerial Council (“kern”) in Brussels.

“The Prime Minister will hold a meeting of the concertation committee with the various minister-presidents of the federated entities of the country as well as the other ministers concerned by the problem this Monday, March 2, at 8:00 am in Lambermont”, the official residence of the head of government federal, said a government statement.

The Minister of Health confirms that the assessment of the situation is precise and constant.


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