Christophe Ketels / COMPAGNIE GAGARINE

“House is on fire. We need to lock down Antwerp”

A complete lockdown of Antwerp is the only solution says professor of family medicine Dirk Devroey (Flemish Free University of Brussels – VUB). Posting on Twitter the academic claims that in other countries this would long have been the case.

Prof Devroey suggests what is needed is to limit people in Antwerp from leaving the home and only to allow them to go out to fetch food and seek medical assistance.  55% of new coronavirus cases occur in Antwerp District. “We need to ask people to stay at home.  The house is on fire.”

The Brussels academic feels a decision to lockdown Antwerp should have been taken earlier and now wonders: “Which policy-maker is courageous enough to take the decision?”

“The source of infection is widening.  At the end of the day the whole of Flanders or even Belgium might have to be locked down.  At present the infection rate for Flanders is 22 infections per 100,000 head of population.  In Brussels the figure is 13, in Wallonia it’s 11.  There were 421 infections in Flanders a day at the last count including 285 in Antwerp District, 46 in Brussels and 43 in Wallonia.  If we do not bring this message, if policy-makers don’t intervene, an extensive lockdown is on the cards.”

Prof Devroey also pointed to the human cost of a failure to act as well as the cost to Belgium’s reputation abroad if indecision wins the day.

Meanwhile the Mayor of Antwerp has decided that everyone aged 12 or more must be in possession of a face covering starting Monday and that face coverings must be worn in busy places.  An obligation to wear a face covering everywhere is not being introduced just yet. Bart De Wever is eager to avoid absurd situations in places and at times when social distancing can be complied with.

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