Wed, 20 Jan 2021

A mask and a disinfectant hand sanitizer are seen at the Autoworld in Brussels, Belgium, May 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

BRUSSELS, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Belgium recorded 276 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 56,511 cases, according to a statement released Friday by public health institute Sciensano.

The health authorities believed that the downward trend of the infections observed for several days has continued.

The last 24 hours saw 56 new hospitalizations, 2 fewer compared with the figure a day earlier. Additional 26 deaths were reported in the same period, taking the toll to 9,212 in the country.

A total of 268 patients are currently in intensive care, a decrease of 9 patients in the last 24 hours.

According to a survey conducted on May 14-15 among 1,000 Belgians by Test Achats, a Belgian consumer protection organization, 62 percent of those polled said they had suffered a financial loss since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis. Per household, calculated Test Achats, the loss amounts to an average of 1,626 euros.

Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence Philippe Goffin announced on Thursday that travels in Europe could be authorized in mid-June.

"The decision, however, lies with the National Security Council. But it is true that we are in a phase of preparation of discussions to ensure that ... we work in a coordinated way with our European neighbors," Goffin told local press.

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