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Infectious diseases expert Erika Vlieghe warns that the virus hasn’t gone away

After a weekend that saw large groups of people congregate on streets and square in a number of towns and cities, the woman at the head of the group that advises the government on its lockdown exit measures has warned that the novel coronavirus has not gone away. Professor Erika Vlieghe is the head of the infectious diseases department at Antwerp University and chairs the group of experts that is working on Belgium’s exit strategy. 

Professor Vlieghe says that scenes like those on the Flageyplein in the Brussels municipality of Elsene, where a large group of hundreds of people staged an impromptu party after the bars and café had closed at 1am, are “Irresponsible and absolutely not appropriate. Get out and about, but don’t do crazy things and this is crazy”.

"Coronavirus now seems to be a long way away from our daily lives. We no longer see footage of people that are ill or of nurses that are working flat out. But the virus is still there. We need to keep on warning that the risk remains and that we all need to do what we can. It is a difficult balance between getting back our freedom and breathing a sigh of relief on the one hand and knowing that the virus is still there on the other”, Professor Vlieghe said.

"It won’t end well if we all carry on like this. We need to carry out another widespread information campaign. The new normal is not business as usual like it was before”. 

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