- Title: Belgium sees summer dangers, but is better prepared, health minister says
- Date: 10th July 2020
- Summary: LIEGE, BELGIUM (FILE - MARCH 26, 2020) (REUTERS) ISOLATED ROOM WHERE PATIENT WITH COVID-19 IS LYING IN BED SIGN ON ROOM'S WINDOW READING (French) "CONFIRMED COVID 19" PATIENT WITH COVID-19 LYING ON BED VARIOUS OF DOCTORS TREATING PATIENT BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE - MAY 4, 2020) (REUTERS) PEOPLE WEARING FACE MASKS WAITING FOR TRAM / TRAM ARRIVING SIGN READING (French and Dutch): 'Wearing a mask is mandatory' TRAVELLER WITH MASK INSIDE TRAM / DOORS CLOSING
- Embargoed: 24th July 2020 13:23
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus Maggie De Block deaths face masks health minister quarantine
- Location: BRUSSELS AND LIEGE, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS AND LIEGE, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA002CM89747
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Belgium faces a potentially risky summer as its citizens take vacations abroad, but it is vastly more prepared than at the start of the year when skiing holidaymakers brought the new coronavirus back, its health minister said on Friday (July 10).
Belgium, badly hit by the pandemic, set up a traffic light system this week to determine which returning travellers will need to quarantine. From Saturday, it will also make wearing masks mandatory in shops and other indoor spaces.
"We took all the measures to be prepared for a second wave. Now the dangers are the vacations," Maggie De Block told Reuters in an interview.
The country of 11 million people has a testing capacity of up to 50,000 per day, De Block said, and wide-ranging controls.
Travellers who visit Lisbon or two areas in Spain will have to quarantine, while passenger information will be collected for certain flights to trace people in case of confirmed infections.
Belgium has reported 9,781 fatalities from COVID-19, which has seen it placed at the top of tables as the worst hit country on a per capita basis.
However, almost 40% of the deaths are where COVID-19 is only suspected, not confirmed. De Block said Belgium had followed the recommendations of the European Centre of Disease Control, but others had not.
"Some say we were very brave, some people say we were very naive to report all the deaths," she said.
Other countries may appear to have fared better, she said, but in some cases this was simply due to under-reporting.
(Production: Bart Biesemans)
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