Large Belgian university moves online again because of virus

BRUSSELS (AP) — One of Belgium’s main universities is moving to online education whenever possible and another is getting ready to follow suit because the coronavirus is continuing to soar across the nation that hosts the European Union headquarters.

Ghent University said the measure will begin Oct. 26 and the Dutch-speaking Free University of Brussels said it already prepared its staff and facilities to do likewise if necessary.

Belgium has said keeping its schools open was a key goal while to took other measure to counter the resurgence of the virus, but the main indicators are spiking at a sustained rate. So far, schools for students up to age 18 have escaped such drastic measures.

Over the week ending Oct. 11, new virus cases increased by 101% compared to the previous week and stood at 5,421. Belgium’s confirmed cases stood at 181,511 in the nation of 11.5 million people. The cases per 100,000 residents stood at 494, one of the highest in Europe.

It was enough for Ghent University, 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Brussels, to take action and move to distance learning wherever it can. Lab teaching will be limited as much as possible.

One of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Belgium last week introduced a series of restrictive measures aimed at slowing the pace of new infections that include local curfews, closing Brussels bars for at least a month and limiting indoor sports activities.

So far, the virus has killed 10,278 people in Belgium.


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