Belgium

Regional News • Europe
Belgian elementary schoolteacher suspended over Prophet Muhammad cartoon.

A Brussels district has suspended an elementary school teacher who showed a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed while discussing the murder of a French teacher who had used the same image, its spokesman said Friday.

The Belgian teacher, who works in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, showed one of the cartoons previously published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo while explaining Samuel Paty’s death.

Regional News • Europe
Belgium: Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès in intensive care with Coronavirus
Sophie Wilmès, current Foreign Minister and former PM of Belgium
Sophie Wilmès, current Foreign Minister and former PM of Belgium Credit: Thomasdaems89 / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Sophie Wilmès has been admitted to intensive care on Wednesday evening following a Coronavirus infection. Her spokeswoman said she is conscious, stable and able to communicate.

Regional News • Europe
Two foreign ministers test positive for Covid-19 after EU meeting in Luxembourg
Sophie Wilmes post on Twitter announcing the test result
Sophie Wilmes post on Twitter announcing the test result Credit: Twitter Reproduction

Alexander Schallenberg and Sophie Wilmes, foreign ministers of Austria and Belgium, have tested positive for coronavirus after attending a meeting in Luxembourg earlier this week. Both announced their test results, separately, on Saturday.

Wilmes announced her positive test in a post on Twitter: "My COVID test result is positive. Contamination probably occurred within my family circle given the precautions taken outside my home."

A spokeswoman for Austria’s Foreign Ministry stated: "It is suspected that Schallenberg might have been infected at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday."

Regional News • Europe
Belgium bars and restaurants to be closed for a month
Alexander De Croo (right)
Alexander De Croo (right) Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Belgian federal government announced Friday that bars and restaurants would have to close for a month, and there will be a curfew from midnight to 5 am. The measures are a response to the surging second wave of Covid-19 and will be in effect from October 19.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said, during a news conference: "The coming weeks will be very difficult, but we must take those measures to avoid the worse."

Belgium has one of the highest per capita Covid-19 fatality rates in the world with 10,283 deaths.

Lifestyle
Delphine Boël wins a lawsuit to be recognized as the daughter of former Belgium king
Delphine Boël wins a lawsuit to be recognized as the daughter of former Belgium king
Credit: Luc Van Braekel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Delphine Boël has won a seven-year legal battle to be recognized as the daughter of the former king of Belgium, Albert II. She will now be called Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, princess of Belgium, following a ruling of the Brussels Court of Appeal.

Sports
F1: Lewis Hamilton wins Belgian GP, celebrates his 89th victory
F1: Lewis Hamilton wins Belgian GP, celebrates his 89th victory
Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton dominated and won the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix in Spa Francorchamps. The British driver has now 89 victories in the category.

Hamilton finished ahead of team-mate Valtteri Botas, with Max Verstappen in third. The victory gave Hamilton a 47 points lead over Verstappen.

The Briton is two victories away from Michael Schumacher's all-time record and set to equal his seven titles.

Sports
Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton on the pole position in Spa-Francorchamps, dedicate it to Chadwick Boseman
Lewis Hamilton dedicating the pole position to Chadwick Boseman
Lewis Hamilton dedicating the pole position to Chadwick Boseman Credit: Motorsport Images and Mercedes-AMG F1

Lewis Hamilton is on pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix, in Spa-Francorchamps. Hamilton, the current leader of the Formula 1 championship, finished half a second ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen took the third place, Daniel Ricciardo the fourth and Alexander Albon the fifth position.

Lewis Hamilton dedicated the pole position to the actor Chadwick Boseman: "What he accomplished and the legacy he left is so incredible to me. He’s inspired a whole generation of young black men and women and provided them with a true superhero to look up to. Rest in power, my friend."

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Phil Hogan resigns as EU trade commissioner after breaching Ireland Covid guidelines
Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan Credit: European Parliament (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner, resigned Wednesday after the Irish government accused him of breaching Covid-19 guidelines during a visit to the country.

On August 19, Hogan attended a golf dinner in County Galway after not complying with quarantine rules when he arrived from Brussels.

Hogan said in a statement, "It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead."

Health
Netherlands, Belgium confirm Covid-19 reinfections
Netherlands, Belgium confirm Covid-19 reinfections
Credit: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute

Individuals in Belgium and the Netherlands have been reinfected with the coronavirus, Dutch media have reported. Some experts believe it is a good sign.

A patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium have been reinfected with the coronavirus, Dutch media reported Tuesday, following reports that scientists in Hong Kong had confirmed the first known reinfection.

Jesse Goodman, a former US Food and Drug Administration chief scientist has stated as a responses to the Hong Kong case that: "if there is a reinfection, it suggests the possibility there was residual immunity that helped protect the patient'' from getting sick again. 

Climate & Environment
Climate activists state that "We don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis" after meeting Angela Merkel

The climate activists Greta Thunberg from Sweden, Anuna de Wever and Adélaïde Charliér from Belgium and Lisa Neubauer from Germany have met the German chancellor Angela Merkel for a 90-minute conversation.

According to Neubauer, they talked about international politics, CO2 pricing and trade agreements. She stated that "it became very clear that we are looking at the issue from different perspectives" and Thunberg said that "we have discussed some demands, but it is complicated".

De Wever stated that during the conversation there main request had been that "what we want are leaders" as "we don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis".

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
United Kingdom removes Andorra, Bahamas and Belgium from safe travel list
Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps Credit: Richard Townshend (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced Thursday that Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium were removed from the Covid-19 Travel Corridors list. The decision means passengers arriving from those countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

On Twitter, Shapps said: "Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and The Bahamas from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN. If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days."

Regional News • Europe
Antwerp city removes King Leopold II statue after anti-racist protest
Statue of King Leopold II in Antwerp
Statue of King Leopold II in Antwerp Credit: Instagram / eriskayconnection

The Belgian city of Antwerp took down a statue of King Leopold II on June 9, days after it was daubed with paint by anti-racism protesters.

Statues of Leopold II were erected all over Belgium and have been at the centre of fierce debate. Calls to take down them have only grown louder as anti-racism protests in the US spread across Europe. At least three Leopold II statues were defaced over the weekend.

According to Johan Vermant, a spokesman for Antwerp's mayor Bart de Wever, the statue is likely to be moved to a museum after its restoration.

Transportation • Public, Railway & Bus Transportation
Belgium to give all residents 10 free train journeys to encourage domestic tourism
Brussels Central Station
Brussels Central Station Credit: Andrew Nash (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Belgian government announced Saturday the state would hand out ten free rides, with a bike place included, to every Belgian resident for use across the national network between July and December, as part of a package of measures to boost domestic tourism and the economy.

The plan suffered criticism from Sophie Dutordoir, SNCB CEO, that said in a message posted on Twitter: "The way in which a decision was taken yesterday without any consultation raises serious questions,"

Regional News • Europe
Belgium: Petition to remove statues of King Leopold II
Leopold II Statue at Place du Trône
Leopold II Statue at Place du Trône Credit: el legowo / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Petition calls for removal of the statues of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold's troops killed millions in Congo during Belgium's colonial era. The petition was started by a 14-year-old boy and has since garnered traction across Europe. Pictures surfaced on Twitter with Leopold's bust (Gent, Belgium) wrapped in a blood-soaked cloth and the words "I Can't Breathe".

Regional News • Europe
Belgian prince Joachim tests positive for Covid-19 after attending party

After travelling to Córdoba in Spain and attending a party with 27 people, Prince Joachin of Belgium has been testes positive for Covid-19. By doing this he broke the government rules of spending 14 days in quarantine after arriving in Spain as well as the rule of social gathering not exceeding 15 guests.

Health
Scientists conduct llama antibody research to fight Covid-19

Since 2016 researchers have used over 130 llamas from a research farm in Belgium for antibody research against the MERS and SARS viruses, which are similar to Covid-19. The researchers found that llamas produce a special type of antibodies called nanobodies which are effective against MERS and SARS and suggest that a possible treatment of Covid-19 could also be possible. The researchers from the US and Belgium are currently conducting further research.

Climate & Environment
Sweden's last coal plant to be closed two years early
Image of Coal Plant
Image of Coal Plant Credit: pexels.com/@pixabay

Sweden's last coal-fired power station, which was set to seize operation in 2022, has been closed prematurely. A statement on Stockholm Exergi's website read: “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan." Sweden is the next European country to go coal-free, following Austria and Belgium.