Belgium worries about expats returning after Christmas

The likelihood of impending international travel severely impacting Belgium’s improving coronavirus numbers is giving experts cause for concern, as the vast expat workforce begins to travel home for the holiday season.

As the start of December passes, and the flights home begin, the mass exodus seen every year to spend time with family and friends is posing some very real risks, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht told Leuropeennedebruxelles.com.

“First of all, people travel to a country where the virus is circulating more. And secondly, they are going there specifically to meet people under conditions that Belgium considers not strict enough,” he said, referring to the UK’s ‘Covid Christmas bubble’ of up to three households, among others.

“The only countries currently doing better [than Belgium] are Finland, Norway, Iceland and Ireland,” he said last week. According to the latest figures on Monday, Greece and France also have an incidence rate that’s lower Belgium’s. “In all the other countries in Europe, there is currently much more virus than here, up to 5 times more virus in some countries.”

“So seeing family and friends is currently the biggest risk activity for infections,” Van Gucht stressed.

On top of that, everyone will be going and returning at roughly the same time, he added. “That means that, potentially, in a short space of time, a great many new introductions of the virus will happen, essentially lighting the fuse.”

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