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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 current security situation and travel advice for your destination on the federal government website. Keep in mind that the advice can change quickly, which can make return travel and repatriation difficult.

The Belgian government also imposes travel restrictions:

  • Non-essential tourist trips outside Europe are prohibited for the time being. Upon return from these countries, self-quarantine for 14 days is mandatory.
  • Non-essential tourist trips within Europe are permitted, with the exception of certain high-risk areas (red areas). Upon return from these red countries or areas, self quarantine for 14 days and a COVID-19 test immediately upon return are mandatory. Travellers who cannot be tested by their general practitioner can go to the Institute of Tropical Medicine for a COVID-19 test.
  • Check the specific guidelines valid in Belgium for your destination(s) via the country list.
  • More general information about travelling within Europe can be found on the federal government's corona-info website.


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.

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 Belgium it is compulsory to wear a mouth mask on public transport and in shops and public buildings, such as museums. In other countries other obligations may apply.


Self-quarantine or isolation is indicated if you are infected with SARS-CoV-2 or had close contact with an infected person and when you return from a risk area.

Stay at home or in your hotel room for 14 days.

Call your general practitioner or, if you are still abroad, your travel assistance insurance for further advice.


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. 


No vaccine is available. 

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. If necessary, 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.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the federal government info-coronavirus website or call (+32) (0)800 146 89.

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