Belgium looking to lift coronavirus restrictions despite the highest death rate in the world


(Natural News) Belgium will start easing its coronavirus restrictions from May 4, making it the latest European country to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.

The country has recorded 7,094 deaths – the world’s highest rate per million – with a total caseload of 43,134, according to figures reported on April 26 by Johns Hopkins University. More than half of the deaths recorded by Belgium, however, have occurred in care homes, with over 96 percent of cases being suspected than confirmed.

On March 18, Belgium imposed a cordon sanitaire in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, allowing only food shops, pharmacies and home improvement stores to remain open.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes announced on April 24 that the country will ease restrictions in phases during the course of the month. She stressed, however, that the country could tighten restrictions or delay easing if a flareup in cases occurs.

“It is now time to look to the future,” she added. “But COVID has not disappeared, the virus is still with us and it is dangerous for the population. It is absolutely essential that the safety measures are respected during the phase-out period.”

For Belgium to fully emerge from the lockdown, Wilmes noted that the country would need to conduct up to 30,000 tests per day. Contact tracing would be carried out by a new team.

Opening the country in stages

Under the new guidelines, hospitals can start performing elective procedures on May 4. In addition, nonessential shops like haberdashers will be permitted to reopen, and certain sports – tennis, kayak and go fishing – will be allowed.

People will also be allowed to socialize with two people not living with them, provided that it is done outside and social distancing is followed; those who will ride on public transportation will have to wear masks.

The week after, most shops – except for hairdressers and other close-contact professions – will be allowed to reopen under strict social distancing measures.