Belgium fears COVID-19 'tsunami'

Updated: 20 October, 2020 09:24 IST | Agencies | Brussels

Curfew to be enforced from midnight until 5:00 am, at least for a month; alcohol sales banned after 8:00 pm and number of people locals can see socially to be reduced from 3 to just 1 all month

An Iraqi worker prepares a grave in a workshop by the Wadi al-Salam (Valley of Peace) cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, on Monday, amid an increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pic/AFP
An Iraqi worker prepares a grave in a workshop by the Wadi al-Salam (Valley of Peace) cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, on Monday, amid an increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pic/AFP

Bars and restaurants across Belgium shut down for a month and a night-time curfew took effect Monday as health authorities warned of a possible 'tsunami' of new virus cases in the hard-hit nation that host the European Union's headquarters.

The new measures aim to limit social interactions to slow down the exponential growth of the pandemic in the nation of 11.5 million people. The new surge of Coronavirus cases has already prompted several hospitals to delay non-essential operations to focus on treating COVID-19 cases.

"We are really very close to a tsunami," Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told broadcaster RTL. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Belgium recorded more than 700 infections per 1,00,000 people over the last 14 days, the second-worst European record behind the Czech Republic, which had 828 per 1,00,000.

As of Monday, 2,485 COVID-19 patients were hospitalised in Belgium, including 412 in ICU. Authorities have warned that intensive care units will hit its capacity of 2,000 beds by mid-November if new cases continue to soar at the same pace.

Iran records worst single-day death toll

Iran recorded its worst day of new deaths since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, with 337 confirmed dead on Monday. The grim milestone represents a significant spike from the previous single-day death toll record of 279. The Ministry also announced 4,251 new infections, pushing the total count to 534,630. Officials say the capital, Tehran, has run out of intensive care beds. The country has seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East with a death toll that topped 30,000 this week. The government has resisted a lockdown to salvage its devastated economy, already weakened by US sanctions.

China's economy continues to boom

China's economic growth accelerated to 4.9 per cent over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic gathered strength.
Figures announced on Monday for the three months ending in September were in line with expectations after the ruling Communist Party declared the outbreak under control in March and began reopening factories, shops. Factory output rose, boosted by foreign demand for Chinese-made masks and other medical supplies.

Twitter blocks tweet from Trump adviser

Twitter blocked a post from an adviser to Donald Trump who suggested that masks do not work to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Scott Atlas, who joined the White House in August as a science adviser, had tweeted 'Masks work? NO.' The tweet violated a Twitter policy that prohibits sharing false or misleading misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to harm, a company spokesperson said.

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First Published: 20 October, 2020 07:54 IST

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