Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Belgium surpasses 1,000 in coronavirus cases

Belgian authorities adopt strong public health measures to stem spread of virus

Agnes Szucs   | 16.03.2020
Belgium surpasses 1,000 in coronavirus cases

BRUSSELS

The total number of the patients infected with the new coronavirus surged to 1,058 in Belgium, a health authority confirmed on Monday.

The northern region of country, Flanders is significantly more affected by the virus.

More than half of the patients, 666 people, are from Flanders, while 274 cases were registered in the southern region Wallonia, and only 103 in the capital Brussels, according to a website statement by Federal Public Service of Health.

The virus has claimed five lives in Belgium so far.

Belgian parties agreed to grant special powers to the caretaker government lead by Sophie Wilmes late on Sunday evening in order to avoid destabilization amid the coronavirus threat.

In the politically and linguistically divided country, political parties haven’t been able to form a government since the 2019 May elections.

The caretaker government had limited competences, which was now broadened by the so-called powers of attorney for three months that can be renewed once.

From Saturday, cafes and restaurants are only open for takeaway services and only food markets can stay open during the weekends.

Schools and universities are closed across the country.

Public parks are still open, but playgrounds were ordered to be closed until a new regulation is issued on Monday.

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s Vice President Frans Timmermans went to a self-imposed quarantine after having met French Deputy State Secretary Brune Poirson on 6 March, who was later diagnosed with COVID-19.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the virus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 141 countries and territories.

The global death toll from the virus is now around 6,400, with nearly 165,000 cases, according to the World Health Organization which declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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