On Friday, April 10, Air Belgium announced that it would suspend all flight operations through Wednesday, June 3, due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The airline was originally set to resume operations on its only two routes, between Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) and Pointe-à-Pitre Airport (PTP) in Guadeloupe and Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF) in Martinique, on Saturday, May 2.
On Friday, April 3, Belgian authorities announced that entry and exit checks would be reintroduced in order to prevent people from taking part in nonessential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of the Interior announced that all travelers to Belgium will be expected to produce a Belgium ID card or a letter from their employer to prove that their travel is essential. Individuals attempting to travel for non-essential purposes will be denied entry. Following the travel restrictions, all schools have been suspended and universities have been recommended to offer distance learning. Group activities have been prohibited while nightclubs, bars, and some nonessential shops have been ordered to close.
A nationwide lockdown is in effect until at least Sunday, April 19. Individuals are only allowed to leave their homes to travel to supermarkets, pharmacies, and banks, or for cases of emergency. Teleworking is obligatory for all but the most essential work. Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has said that police will enforce the terms of the lockdown more strictly.
As of April 10, 26,667 cases of COVID-19 and 3019 associated fatalities have been confirmed in Belgium. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.
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.
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 COVID-19 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.