Belgium analysing two Covid samples to test for new variant from Southern Africa – leading virologist

Belgium is analysing two samples of COVID-19 to establish if they are new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, a leading local virologist said on Friday.

arc Van Ranst, whose laboratory works closely with Belgium’s public health body Sciensano, made the comment on Twitter.

“We are currently analysing two suspicious samples,” Van Ranst said

It comes as the Belgian government brought in new restrictions on Friday such as early closing of bars and full closure of nightclubs for three weeks to reduce social contact and curb a rapidly spreading fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

“We are confronted with a situation now that is worse than the most pessimistic view of the experts from only two weeks ago,” Belgian premier Alexander De Croo told a news conference, saying that the strain on the health service was mounting.

The new measures come just a week after a previous package of coronavirus restrictions, including enforcing wider use of masks and more working from home.

Under the new rules, Christmas markets, cultural sites, bars and restaurants will have to close at 11 p.m., with a maximum of six people per table. Private parties and gatherings are also banned, unless they are for weddings or funerals.

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