Corona update: Average daily infections pass 600 mark


As infections rise in Belgium, Brussels Airport opens a test lab, football fans head back to stadiums, and the coast prepares for a busy week

Too casual, says virologist

The number of average daily coronavirus infections in Belgium has passed the 600 mark, with some days seeing more than 900 positive tests. The infection rate stands at 1.36.

Belgium is currently carrying out between 25,000 and 30,000 tests per day, with 2.8% of tests coming back positive. The largest absolute number of cases is still in the Brussels-Capital region, with 140 new infections per day on average, a 20% increase compared to the previous week.

The increase in infections can partly be explained by the return from summer holidays and to school. But KU Leuven virologist Marc Van Ranst says that people are also much more relaxed about coronavirus measures than they were earlier this year.

“The measures that are in place are perfectly fine, and they work, which is why the figures dropped so substantially,” he told VRT. “The problem is that they are now being questioned, different opinions are emerging, even in the government. That leads the public to think that it’s all not so serious and that the measures are excessive. And then you get an increase in infections again.”

Covid tests at airport

Brussels Airport’s mobile Covid-19 screening centre will open on Monday. At first, the tests will only be available to travellers returning from a red zone – with a same-day result, using nearby labs. Testing for departing passengers, with an accelerated three-hour result, will be offered at a later stage, once a lab has been built within the airport terminal itself.

Memorial garden

It has been an emotional day in Sint-Truiden as the city held a memorial for those who have died of complications due to the coronavirus. A memorial garden was opened in the Speelhof park with a sculpture of a tree and thousands of forget-me-nots.

People who lost family spoke at the memorial, including 10-year-old Lorenzo (pictured above), whose grandfather died in March. Memorials followed in all 17 of the city’s cemeteries. With a population of 40,000, Sint-Truiden was hard hit by Covid-19, losing 335 of its citizens in the period leading up to 15 July.

Football fans back

Football fans returned to stadiums today, for the first time since the coronavirus crisis began. In Anderlecht, some 6,000 supporters – separated into smaller groups of 400 – cheered the home team on to a win over Cercle Brugge, 2-0.

GDP to rebound

Belgium’s National Bank forecasts that economic growth in the third quarter will be in the region of 8%, after declines of 3.5% and 12% in the first and second quarters respectively. GDP growth is expected to rebound this quarter as the coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Coast prepares for busy week

After a two-week breather, the Flemish coast is preparing itself for another busy week, as temperatures up to 30°C are forecast. Seaside hotels and restaurants are hoping for a late-season boost to compensate for losses in the spring. Hotels expect an average occupancy rate of at least 80%.

Photos, from top: ©Bernard Gillet/BELGA, ©Laurie Dieffembacq/BELGA