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Virologist Erika Vlieghe fears that Sunday’s demonstration in Brussels will have an impact on infections

The woman at the head of the committee that advises the government on its corona lockdown exit strategy Dr Erika Vlieghe has told VRT News that she fears that Sunday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in Brussels could have a negative impact on the number of new coronavirus infections. Around 10,000 people attended the demonstration and such was the number of people on the Poelaertplein in Brussels that social distancing could not be maintained. 

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, the infectious diseases expert Dr Vlieghe said that although she feared for a negative effect due to such a large number of protesters having assembled “It will be difficult to ascertain which effect is which, because in the meantime were have entered phase 3 of the exit strategy. So it won’t be easy to make a distinction”.

"More than 10,000 in one place together is an horrific figure at this time, how ever noble their aim might have been. Our country is clawing its way back from the epidemic and then all those people so close together. From an epidemiological point of view this is something we could have done without”.

Dr Vlieghe added that the fact that most of the protesters were wearing mouth masks will have helped a little to stop the virus from spreading.

"However, to my mind this was not a good time to take to the streets with so many people”. Nevertheless, Dr Vlieghe added that “It’s not because you have banned something that you can prevent a mass gathering. So it seems naive to me to believe that you can solve everything by simply banning it. It is always a balancing act to achieve what will be safest".