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BELGIUM EXPECTED TO EXTEND RESTRICTIONS AS INFECTIONS RISE

Belgian health authorities warned on Friday that the number of Covid infections is rising, probably due in part to the fast-spreading variant first found in Britain, as the government appeared set to prolong restrictions for several more weeks.

Figures released Friday showed that 2,294 new confirmed cases are appearing on average daily in Belgium, a rise of 24 per cent over the previous 7-day period. However, the number of reported cases in care homes is dropping, and the Covid-19 death rate continues to decline.

The rise in the number of infections, despite the number of tests decreasing, is a sign that the virus is circulating more,” said Steven Van Gucht, head of the viral diseases scientific service at the Belgian Scientific Institute of Public Health. “This could be due to the appearance of more contagious new variants, but also to less respect for restrictions.

The institute estimated that more than half of new infections last week were caused by the variant first identified in the UK, compared to 38 per cent of cases over the previous seven, Van Gucht said. Belgium has also recorded cases of virus variants first found in South Africa and Brazil, but numbers are small.





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