The public health scientific research institute Sciensano continues to publish figures on the novel coronavirus pandemic in Belgium. The numbers of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths over the past 7 days show a further fall across the board. During the past 7 days an average of 82 people tested positives for the novel coronavirus. This is down 13% of the average of 94 new infections per that were recorded during the previous week. The average number of deaths is also down. During the past week there were an average of 4 deaths from COVID-19. Last, the average number of patients with COVID-19 that have been admitted to hospital during the past 7 days has fallen to 13 per day. Despite that the virus has not disappeared the government continues to gradually ease the corona restriction measures. Nevertheless, the world today is a very different place. Since mid-May Belgium’s museums reopened. The museums have had to adopt a raft of measures to prevent the spread of corona virus making it safe for us to visit and to ensure museums don’t get too crowded – SMAK (Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art), Ghent, Belgium
13 June, 2020 - Update on the Corona Crisis from Ghent - The virus’ reproduction number in Belgium currently stands at 0.87. This means that anyone with the novel coronavirus infects an average of 0.87 people. All trends look favourable and for the first time since mid-March, fewer than 500 people are in hospital, and fewer than 100 on the intensive care. Van Gucht, one of Belgians leading virologists, said: “We are now sailing into calmer waters and we can release the reins a little bit. Although we entered a new phase of the exit plan social distancing remains key to stemming the transmission of COVID-19”. Today’s pictures were taken long before we were confronted with the one-and-a-half-meter society. The picture is a vignette of the funeral of Flemish singer, Luc De Vos, who died suddenly in December 2014 at the age of 52. I’m wondering how we would have paid our last honors to Luc De Vos in today’s environment – Sint-Pietersplein, Ghent, Belgium
Yesterday’s Corona figures in a summary: 154 new infection, a further 15 deaths and a total of 571 people hospitalised. Whilst the Corona pandemic is tailing off in Belgium the economic and social fallout becomes clearer and politicians are scrambling to appear decisive and compassionate for the sake of boosting their popularity. Last week the government announced that all employees will receive a €300 cheque that can be spent in bars, restaurants or hotels. Yesterday they published that everyone living in Belgium will receive a ticket offering 10 journeys on Belgian Railways free of charge. The government is playing Father Christmas. Unfortunately, most of these decisions are taken without consultation with the concerned stakeholders and without having a comprehensive economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Covid-19 pandemic shakes the global economy and disrupts the way we live, work, and conduct business we are in urgent need for politicians that don’t simply react to the most imminent threats confronting them, but we need leaders with a vision for a clear post-crisis future. Today’s photography pictures some less concerned people sup boarding the rivers of downtown Ghent – Kantienberg, Ghent, Belgium.
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to tail off in Belgium. Still, 165 new infections were diagnosed on Friday. Let’s hope that this is linked to increased testing. Meanwhile, the budget deficit has shot off the rails and is climbing to new heights. The corona crisis has pushed up expenditure: there has been a big take up of the grants available to businesses forced to close, while at the same time revenue is sharply down. Despite the implementation of well-measured protective measures, employment will not escape the consequences of the economic shock. Whilst the economic outlook is not rosy the government has agreed another set of measures to support economic activity. VAT on goods and services in the hospitality industry is being cut to 6% for a limited period. Moreover employees will receive a €300 cheque that can be spent in bars, restaurants or hotels or to buy tickets to attend organised events like shows and theatre performances. On display are people enjoying lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon downtown Ghent in August 2014. I’m wondering how it will look as of Monday when restaurants and bars are scheduled to re-open – Jan Breydelstraat, Ghent,
The security council’s ban on mass events till 31 August means that all the big summer events will be cancelled. In Ghent too many are heartbroken, It is the first time since World War I that the Ghent Festivities will not take place. The Festival of Ghent is without doubt the biggest and best-known street festival in Europe, attracting around 2 million visitors each year. “The Ghent Festivities are part of the city’s DNA. The cancellation of course hurts, but we are resilient. In 2021 we plan to party twice as hard” said Mathias De Clercq, the city’s mayor. Here are some memories of the sparkling “Gentse Feesten” from 2014. On display is late Walter De Buck at one of his last public appearances before he passed away later that year. Walter De Buck was a singer, sculptor and founder of the modern “Gentse Feesten” – Sint-Jacobsplein, Ghent, Belgium.
28 Corona related deaths and 82 new infections were reported yesterday. The figure is slightly up on the day but remains under the 100 threshold. A major relaxation of the Corona restriction becomes effective as of 8 June. PM Sophie Wilmès said: “We started by banning everything. There was a lockdown. Starting 8 June we will think differently. Freedom is our point of departure. Everything will be possible, except the things that are banned.” While we are moving into the “new normal” the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 is not yet known, it is clear that it goes well beyond the immediate deaths and morbidity. The impact is likely to be felt for long after COVID-19 itself has been dealt with, with there being long-lasting implications for cancelled elective healthcare, mass unemployment, and extended social isolation. Every century has six or seven years, which represent main turning points. 2020 is certainly a candidate to become one of those few key years, shaping this century is: a deadly virus challenging economy, globalisation, mobility and consumption and even creating the general consensus that freedom of movement belongs among our highest goods. Today’s picture demonstrates that it’s not all gloom and doom and that vacationing in your own city can be an enjoyable alternative to long distance traveling – Ketelvaart, Ghent, Belgium
For the first time since the start of the epidemic yesterday’s figures show that fewer than 100 people have tested positive for the corona virus in a single day. All other statistics continue to move in the right direction. Hence, it’s time to reverse the logic of the corona measures. Until now the authorities tried to set out what was allowed. All the rest wasn’t allowed. Deputy PM Alexander De Croo believes that we are now at a point when this logic can be turned on its head. If you follow the general rules on social distancing, hand hygiene and mouth and nose coverings, hopefully from 8 June onwards everything, apart from a few exemptions, will be permitted. It will also be far more logical for people. Let’s wait and see if the the security council is going to confirm this logic later this afternoon. Today’s picture shows The Backstay Hostel in Ghent, a beautiful monumental Art Deco building with a rich history. The hostel found its home in the former office of “Dagblad Vooruit” (a Belgian Newspaper) and was later turned into an cultural house called “Backstage” – Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat, Ghent, Belgium
The number of COVID-19 patients that are being cared for in Belgian hospitals continues to fall. However, a considerable number of new infections are still being recorded, 136 people tested positive for COVID-19. Amid the corona crisis the outcry over racism in the US continues to grow in Europe and is becoming an anti-trump cudgel. About 500 people demonstrated against racism on Monday afternoon on the Sint-Pieterplein in Ghent. Protesters demonstrated with slogans like “Stop racism”, “Le racisme tue” or “We can’t breathe”. The police tolerated that the group remained 30 minutes on the spot respecting social distanciations, which left them time to deliver a few speeches. The demonstrators also put one knee on the ground and raised their fist, adopting an American sign of peaceful protest against the police violence targeting African-American people. Today’s picture shows the Roeland bell and a little mural of Luc Thuymans. The Roeland bell was used as a storm bell and became the symbol of the city - Ghent, Belgium.
Yesterday’s figures show a continuation of the positive trend: a further 195 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus, 40 people suffering from COVID-19 were admitted to Belgian hospitals and “only” 14 fatalities were reported. Whilst we’re slowly moving out of the Corona lockdown Belgium is on track to wrap up its warmest spring season in recorded history and the month of May is set to become the driest one in 200 years. The increasingly warming temperatures spell trouble for Belgium. We’re living in a country that is more accustomed to common spells of rain than prolonged periods of warm and dry weather and climate disruptions will confront us with drought, floods, heatwaves and loss of biodiversity. Amid the Covid-19 and weather challenges people become also more concerned with the social unrest in the US, once my favorite country. In the aftermath of the incident in Minneapolis the widespread anger and outrage in the US where black people for years have been unproportionally targeted by the police and have suffered more than other Americans during the coronavirus crisis because of their deprived socio-economic conditions is understandable. However, we’ve seen time and time again that violence is never the answer or solution. Clearly, the US is in desperate need for a leader that unites, inspires and heals the country… Today’s picture is not a postcard greeting nor is it a vignette of a street-scene it’s just a composition that I like. An urban alignment that brings some order to the chaos – Kantienberg, Ghent, Belgium.
New figures on the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium show a continuation in the fall in the number those hospitalised after having contracted the virus and the number of new infections. Sadly, the virus continues to claim lives. There were a further 23 COVID-19 deaths reported in Belgium. This brings the total number of deaths in Belgium from COVID-19 to 9,453. As of yesterday, the Belgian government allowed its citizens to visit family members that live in one of our neighboring countries. While visiting family abroad you will be allowed to go shopping with them if this is absolutely necessary. However, going out on a day trip with them is not allowed. To add to the confusion the Belgian government did not inform our bordering countries. France for instance announced that it is not opening its borders before 15 June. Confusion and disappointment all over the place. Vive l’Europe! Today’s picture is another vignette of the city coming back to life - Woodrow Wilsonplein, Ghent, Belgium.
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