March 20, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 2 months ago

Belgium coronavirus deathtoll rises to 37 in largest daily jump

A man walks through an empty check-in area at Zaventem International Airport near Brussels, after Belgium imposed a lockdown to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Belgium, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium recorded 16 new deaths on Thursday because of coronavirus, for a total of 37 in the country, the biggest daily rise since the beginning of the epidemic, a spokesman for the Belgian health ministry said on Friday.

The country added 462 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2257.

Telework has become mandatory for all companies and social distancing measures must be implemented or companies will have to close and could be fined.

The spokesman said the coming days would be “extremely intense” because the number of patients in hospitals will continue to increase but that hospitals were ready to cope, with a total capacity of 1900 beds, at least at the beginning.

Belgium imposed lockdown measures on Wednesday to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; Editing by Toby Chopra

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