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Coronavirus: Belgians in quarantine return home
Nine Belgians who were quarantined in Brussels as a precaution against Coronavirus were allowed to return home this weekend - after playing lots of ping-pong to pass the time.
Eight of the patients had spent the past fortnight in a sealed ward at the military hospital in Neder-over-Heembeek, following their repatriation from Wuhan in China.
The ninth, who tested positive for the virus soon after returning to Belgium, was placed in isolation at Saint-Pierre hospital. He showed no symptoms and was also allowed home at the weekend.
Two other Belgians, who were flown home on a later flight than the rest, are still in quarantine but should receive the all-clear to return home in the coming days.
"Two weeks in the same room is rather long, even if there were also common areas," said Jhan Smet, one of the patients at the Queen Astrid military hospital.
"We are all happy to be able to go home now and we hope that our two 'colleagues' who have stayed can also get out quickly."
Fellow patient Leen Vervaeke said: "It's not something you do for fun, but we understand that it was for good reasons. We were very well taken care of - the doctors and nurses kept us well-informed all the time and were always listening. This makes it easier to understand what's going on."
The quarantined patients could chat to each other, "but playing board games wasn't possible because we had to keep a distance of two metres between us," Vervaeke explained.
"We then had the idea of asking for a ping-pong table. The staff took care of it and so it more or less became the place where we could meet, even if playing table tennis with a mask on your mouth is not so easy."
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga