COVID-19

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

COVID-19 (Corona virus disease-19) is caused by a new corona virus, SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Respiratory Syndrome - Corona Virus-2).

The virus is human-to-human transmissible. Infection occurs through the inhalation of small droplets of saliva from an infected person that are released during speaking, coughing or sneezing. These droplets of saliva can also land on hands and objects. Touching these hands or objects and then touching one's own face can also result in infection.

Symptoms may occur two days to two weeks after the infection. The symptoms vary from mild flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia with fever, coughing and shortness of breath. In addition, gastrointestinal complaints and a temporary loss of taste and smell can occur. Elderly people and people with chronic conditions have a higher risk of serious symptoms and death. Children and pregnant women do not run a higher risk of serious symptoms and death.

Risk areas

The outbreak initially started in Wuhan, China, but has now grown into a pandemic with global outbreaks.

Each country has drawn up specific guidelines to prevent further spread. In some countries, travellers are required to undergo quarantine and/or a COVID-19 test upon arrival. Check the travel advice for your destination via the country list. Keep in mind that the advice can change quickly, which can make return travel and repatriation difficult.

Prevention

Basic hygiene

Wash or disinfect your hands regularly and especially:

  • After a visit to the toilet.
  • Before eating.
  • After you have touched a possibly contaminated object like a door handle or a shared keyboard.

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a disinfectant containing at least 60% to 95% alcohol. If your hands are visibly dirty, wash them with soap and water.

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Social distancing

Limit the number of social contacts you have.

Do not shake hands when greeting someone and keep 1.5 metres away from people who do not live with you.

Avoid places where many people gather.

Download the CoronAlert app. It notifies you anonymously if you were in contact with someone who installed the app and tested positive for COVID-19.

Avoid sick persons

Stay away from sick people and make sure no one coughs or sneezes in your face.

Mouth masks

Wear a mouth mask in places where it is difficult to keep a distance of 1.5 meters. In some countries it is compulsory to wear a mouth mask on the street, on public transport, or in shops and public buildings, such as museums.

Travelling

Residents of Belgium can travel freely within the EU/Schengen zone with a valid corona certificate, but countries can also impose additional entry requirements.

It is not recommended to travel to red regions outside the EU/Schengen zone and to very high risk countries because of the circulation of "variants of concern".

Check the entry conditions per country.

Returning to Belgium

The measures for travellers returning to Belgium depend on:

  • the place of residence (Belgium, EU or outside)
  • the status after vaccination or after a COVID-19 infection
  • the colour code of the region from which you depart

 There is a ban on entry to Belgium for countries with a very high risk because of the circulation of "variants of concern”.

COVID-19 certificate

There are three types of COVID-19 certificates:

  • Vaccination certificate: after each vaccine dose
  • Test certificate: after a negative COVID-19 PCR test
  • Recovery certificate: can be obtained 11 days after a positive test, valid for 180 days

These certificates will become usable within the EU from 1 July 2021, but entry conditions may vary by country. Always check the entry conditions of your country of destination.

More information about the certificates and how to request them can be found on the website of the Flemish government, or in the CovidSafe app.

Travel insurance

Take a careful look at the terms and conditions of your travel insurance.

Self-quarantine

Self-quarantine may be required depending on test results after close contact with someone with COVID-19 or after return from a red region.

COVID-19 test

For the COVID-19 test, contact your GP. If you are abroad, contact your travel assistance insurance.
Asymptomatic people can be tested in a testing village in some cities.

Travellers can go to airports, some large railway stations and the Institute of Tropical Medicine.

Animals

Stay away from animals and their waste products. Do not visit animal markets. 

Food and drinks

Do not eat undercooked meat and non pasteurised milk products. 

Vaccination

At the end of December 2020, the COVID-19 vaccination campaign started in Belgium.

Do you have any symptoms that could point to COVID-19?

  • Are you sick and have you been in China for the past 14 days? Call your doctor and mention your travel history and symptoms. Do not go to a practice or hospital.
  • If you are (still) abroad, call your travel insurance company for advice. Do not go to a practice or hospital if you may be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Avoid infecting others

  • Keep at least 1.5 meters away from other persons. Wear a mouth mask or cover your mouth and nose with a scarf.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable handkerchief when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of the handkerchiefs in a bin with a lid and wash hands.
  • Wash or disinfect your hands regularly, especially after sneezing or coughing.
  • Stay at home or in your hotel room until you know whether you are infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Additional information

  • For more information about COVID-19, visit the federal government info-coronavirus website or call (+32) (0)800 146 89.
  • Crisis Information Translated’ is the app from the Social Integration Agency with info on COVID-19 measures and vaccination campaign in 25 languages.

Additional information for medical doctors

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