Returning holidaymakers trigger corona surge in Brussels

Holidaymakers returning home from holidays abroad have triggered an enormous increase in new coronavirus cases in the Belgian and Flemish capital.  It’s especially the more upmarket boroughs of Etterbeek, Elsene and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe that are seeing the brunt of new cases.

Inge Neven of the Brussels health service: “For a couple of days now we have seen a tremendous rise in the number of people who are testing positive for coronavirus.  Infection numbers are up 14% in the week to 7 January.”

Ms Neven isn’t surprised by the increase that she blames partly on holidaymakers returning home. 

“Over the past fortnight 50,000 people returned home from red zones.  Many of these people were tested on day one and day seven.  We can attribute the lion’s share of the increase to this category.  The increase is also linked to the fact that more people are being tested.”

“The City of Brussels, Etterbeek, Elsene and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe are among the boroughs affected.  These are also the municipalities with the highest number of Passenger Locator Forms, the forms you must fill in after staying abroad for over 48 hours.”

“Many of these forms lead to more tests and they show that infections have risen steeply”.

The great worry of Flemish virologists and of Inge Neven is that a variant like the one believed to have originated in Kent (England) will enter the country on the back of a traveller.

“This is why more tests must be carried out and we must provide a follow up to obligatory quarantine. We must do everything to prevent a third wave.  People who have been abroad can return home with other variants like the British one that is so much more infectious.”

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