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Belgium to close schools, cafes, restaurants to contain coronavirus spread

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-13 09:06
A woman wearing a protective face mask, due to a coronavirus outbreak, is seen at Zaventem international airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 4, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - Belgium announced on Thursday to close schools, discos, cafes and restaurants until April 3, in an intensified effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

All recreational, sports, cultural or folklore activities -- whether public or private and regardless of size -- will be cancelled, Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced, following a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC).

The goal of these measures is to slow down the spread of the virus and allow health care services to absorb the demand for care, the prime minister said.

These measures will take effect from this weekend until April 3, Wilmes said.

However, childcare will be provided for parents who work in the fields of health care, public safety, and for children who cannot be cared for by anyone other than their grandparents. Nurseries will remain open.

Pharmacies and food shops will remain open all week, which will not be the case for other so-called "non-essential" businesses. They will only be open during the week, but closed at weekends.

Public transport will continue to operate, but the government is encouraging companies to allow teleworking for their employees.

Eighty-five new COVID-19 cases have been detected and confirmed in Belgium on Thursday, bringing the total number of people infected to 399, the Federal Public Health Service (FPS Health) announced on Thursday.

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