- Title: Belgium sees summer dangers, but is better prepared, health minister says
- Date: 10th July 2020
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (JULY 10, 2020) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** BELGIAN HEALTH MINISTER, MAGGIE DE BLOCK, WALKING TO HER DESK AND TAKING A SEAT DE BLOCK AT HER DESK (SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIAN HEALTH MINISTER, MAGGIE DE BLOCK, SAYING: "We took all the measures to be prepared for a second wave and now the dangers are the vacations. Not the vacations, but people coming back from vacations, as we saw in the month of March." DE BLOCK SITTING AT DESK DE BLOCK TALKING DE BLOCK SITTING AT DESK AND TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIAN HEALTH MINISTER, MAGGIE DE BLOCK, SAYING: "We followed the recommendations of the European Centre for Disease (Prevention and) Control, which means that you don't only report proven cases, but also suspected cases. And as you see in our elderly homes there were many people who had... There was a suspicion (for coronavirus) because they were out of breath. But was it (because of) their age, was it the heart, the lungs or was it corona? So it was a suspected case and it went into the death rates. Some say we were very brave, some say we were very naive to report all the deaths."
- 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: LVA001CM89747
- 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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