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Brussels municipalities to hand out facemasks to residents

20:18 09/04/2020

The mayors of Saint-Josse and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert have announced that facemasks will be distributed to residents of the Brussels municipalities. Masks are currently being made by local organisations and volunteers.

“We know that there is still no scientific consensus on the general use of masks,” said Saint-Josse mayor Emir Kir (former PS). “But it’s one more way to fight the pandemic.”

The federal government has not recommended facemasks for citizens unless someone suspects they actually have the virus or are sure they do and wants to protect people living in their home. This is in keeping with the WHO recommendation.

But global health professionals have yet to reach a consensus on whether everyone should wear a facemask as a standard measure of protection. “If wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of the virus, then it should be a general rule,” said Kir. “Our goal is to provide every resident with a mask that meets the norms.”

Sewers sought

The distribution of the masks will not be for tomorrow. Some 30,000 must be made, and several organisations are working on it. These include La Maison de la Famille, the Lycée Guy Cudell and the municipality itself. Kir emphasises that Saint-Josse is not requiring the use of facemasks, only making them available to residents who want them.

And Kir is not alone in thinking that facemasks are a good idea. The mayors of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Auderghem, Forest and Ixelles are also recommending that residents wear facemasks.

Woluwe-Saint-Lambert is also having masks made, mayor Olivier Maingain (Défi) announced. Maingain made headlines early last month when he banned anyone returning from a high-risk area, such as Northern Italy and China – from accessing public services and schools in the municipality. This was two weeks before the federal government closed schools and announced restrictions.

Residents of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert are being asked to donate fabric and to make masks. The masks will be distributed as they become available. Priority will be given to the elderly and high-risk groups. Complete information can be found on the municipality’s Facebook page.

Photo ©art Photo/Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw