Belgium fears second wave after coronavirus spike – UK ready to change travel advice

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New cases of the deadly disease have jumped 58 percent in the last week, prompting warnings of a fresh crisis across the northern European country. As the pandemic continues to spread, Belgium has averaged around 535 new cases a day since August 26. But the Belgium Crisis Centre has claimed the country is not yet experiencing a feared second wave.

Spokeswoman Frédérique Jacobs said: “We are not going through a second wave, let us be clear.

“We are seeing a rise in the number of people who test positive.”

“We are witnessing a rise in the number of new cases and, if we do nothing, we will head straight into a second wave,” she added.

“We may be at the beginning of a new wave, but for now the numbers are not so high, even if they are worrying, and if we do nothing we will obviously head into a new wave.”

The British Government is understood to be pondering a decision to make travellers arriving from Belgium quarantine for 14 days.

Officials are finalising plans to add the country to the list of places from where people will be ordered to isolate on arrival.

Ministers are expected to sign off on the change, which will enter into force at either midnight tonight or tomorrow.

Belgian officials, however, are confident that the spike in new infections is starting to level off.

They also believe the increase can be attributed to the country’s new testing regime.

Ms Jacobs said: “When we were at the height of the epidemic in March and April, we had around 2,300, maximum 2,600 new positive cases each day – now we are at 500.

“It’s not the same people, the first time we tested only infected people whose symptoms were severe enough to warrant a hospitalisation – we were not detecting the people who were not as sick, the asymptomatic cases.

“Now we are detecting people who have even the slightest symptoms, obviously all the contacts of the people who have tested positive, and all the people who are travelling to or returning from high-risk destinations, red or orange, even if they have no symptoms – so we are not following the same testing strategy.”

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Most new cases have been attributed to Antwerp, mostly in young people across the region.

“We have not seen a lot of hospitalisations because, so far, the virus is being detected mainly among young people,” Ms Jacobs added.

But she conceded while the number of people being admitted to hospital remained low, a sudden increase could spell trouble for officials.

“Hospitalisations are rising slowly, but surely,” she said.

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Antwerp has decided to relax the restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the virus.

Governor Cathy Berx will allow fitness clubs to reopen and will ease mandatory mask-wearing rules.

However, she will maintain a curfew from 11.30pm to 6.00am, during which no-one is permitted outside unless absolutely essential.

All restaurants and bars have been ordered to close at 11pm to allow people time to travel home.

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