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27 Mar 2020 | 01:57 PM UTC

Belgium: Government to extend nationwide lockdown to April 19 /update 7

Belgium extends nationwide lockdown to April 19; follow authority directives

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BEL

Event

On Friday, March 27, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announced that a nationwide lockdown set to expire on April 5 has been extended by two weeks until Sunday, April 19, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Per the directives, individuals are only allowed to leave their homes to travel to supermarkets, pharmacies, and banks, or for cases of emergency. Gatherings of people are prohibited but individuals will still be permitted to go outside for physical activity, including walking or cycling. Teleworking is obligatory for all but the most essential work. Wilmès added that police would enforce the terms of the lockdown more strictly.

To date, there are more than 7280 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 289 associated deaths. Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:  

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.