BRUSSELS — The new variant of COVID-19 first detected in Britain is now starting to gain a foothold in Belgium, officials say, with cases reported several northern schools on top of an outbreak in a nursing home.
“The variant has settled into our country,” pre-eminent virologist Marc Van Ranst told HLN network. “Like in other nations, it is getting traction.”
The town of Houthulst in northwestern Belgium shot up to the top of the country's infection rate with 1,207 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days after a spike in cases at a nursing home this year left over 100 people infected. Tests showed the new variant was to blame.
In the Antwerp area, two schools reported cases over the weekend and closed Monday for a week due to the new variant. Authorities said students, teachers and their families should all quarantine for ten days.
Belgium has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, seeing 20,435 confirmed deaths.