Is Belgium ready for new corona virus pandemic?

Belgium is not taking any precautions against the new corona virus that has killed seventeen people in China.  The Flemish Care and Health Agency says that the risk that a patient is diagnosed with the virus in Belgium is very small.

Joris Moonens: “The authorities are being vigilant.  We are following the news and are getting updates from the World Health Organisation. Risk assessments are regularly made, but at this point we believe there is a low to very low of a patient emerging with the virus in Belgium. There is no ground for worry but vigilance is needed.”

No special measures are being taken at Brussels Airport.  Many Chinese will be travelling home from abroad for the lunar New Year and will then returning abroad afterwards.  Still, there are no direct flights between Belgium and the stricken area in China.

Joris Moonens: “Measures seem unnecessary at present.” The health care spokesman points to the fact that Belgium has a scenario ready in case the virus is diagnosed in Belgium.  “We gained experience from another comparable corona virus outbreak in 2012.  Procedures have been drawn up setting out what should happen when there is a patient in Belgium”.

Prof Herman Goossens of Antwerp University co-ordinates the PREPARE Outbreak Mode Committee that is funded by the European Commission. He insists the European authorities are ready: “Europe has the necessary structures and means to respond in the event of a pandemic.  I have never seen such a quick reaction and co-operation as in the case of a corona virus outbreak.”