Brussels

  1. More than 170 Covid cases at European Parliament

    MEPs in the European Parliament, 11 November 2020
    Image caption: MEPs in the European Parliament

    The European Parliament has suffered a significant Covid outbreak: 171 cases among MEPs and staff at the end of October, a spokesperson told the BBC.

    She did not have a more recent figure, saying the numbers were evolving, but were decreasing as most parliament meetings were now taking place online.

    Most were asymptomatic cases, detected because of the track and trace system, the spokesperson said.

    MEPs no longer travel to Strasbourg each month, as they used to. And the Brussels meetings have fewer participants than previously.

    In total, there are 705 MEPs and nearly 4,000 MEPs' assistants, plus about 7,500 other staff at the European Parliament.

  2. Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Inside Europe’s most infected area

    Gavin Lee reports from the epicentre of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is in Belgium.

  3. Belgium surge likened to tsunami

    Gavin Lee

    BBC Europe reporter

    Brussels - masked pedestrians, Sept 2020
    Image caption: Brussels: Belgium was already hit hard in the first wave in spring

    "We are close to a tsunami": that was the stark warning on the gravity of the situation in Belgium, from health minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

    He told reporters that a “tsunami” would be a scenario where “we no longer control what is happening". The health pressures in Brussels and the southern French-speaking Wallonia region were “the most dangerous in all of Europe”, he said.

    Belgium is now recording on average almost 8,000 cases a day. Most are in Brussels and Liège. That figure is four times higher than the daily average only two weeks ago.

    In the past three days, more than 10,000 daily cases were recorded.

    The death rate is also slowly rising again, at around 30 per day. But that is still 10 times less than at the peak of the first wave, when Belgium had the world’s highest coronavirus death rate per capita.

    There is concern over medical staff and their ability to cope with an influx of cases. Several hospitals in Brussels and Liège have started sending patients elsewhere to avoid saturation. In some cases hospitals in Aalst and Charleroi refused to accept new Covid patients. The mayor of Aalst, Christophe D’Haese, said “the limits of medical solidarity" had been reached.

    Doctors' surgeries are also feeling the strain. On Friday, I called my GP for a check-up and was told to avoid coming in because the chance of contracting coronavirus was too high. The doctor said the place was “an aquarium of Covid cases”. Authorities here blame the spread on “pandemic fatigue” - people becoming complacent and no longer observing social distancing rules.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: 'A few words on Brexit' – EU leaders' views

    European leaders appeared united at the start of their two-day summit, and this is what they had to say.

  5. Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Belgian hospital staff turn backs on PM Sophie Wilmès

    Staff at Brussels' Saint-Pierre Hospital stage a protest during a visit by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.

  6. Eurostar passengers 'have to cover their faces'

    Thomas Mackintosh

    BBC London News

    Eurostar

    Eurostar passengers will be required to cover their faces from today or risk being refused travel.

    The rail company said the rule for travellers to wear face coverings is in line with guidelines from the French and Belgian governments.

    Any type of face covering is allowed "as long as it effectively covers your nose and mouth", a statement said.

    In its statement, Eurostar said fines may be imposed in France and Belgium for anyone without a face covering.

    The company is operating a significantly reduced service, in line with increased border controls and a lower demand for travel triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Just four services are running each day between London and Paris, and London and Brussels, according to timetables published on the company's website.