(BBC) – Belgium could soon be overwhelmed by new coronavirus infections, the health minister has warned, amid soaring case numbers across the country.
Frank Vandenbroucke said new cases were close to a “tsunami” where authorities “no longer control what is happening”.
New measures to try to halt the spread came into force on Monday. All bars and restaurants are closed for four weeks.
Infection numbers are climbing throughout Europe, prompting new restrictions across the continent.
Italy announced a raft of measures on Sunday
after recording its highest daily infection rate, while nine major French cities have been placed under curfew.
The Czech Republic – which has the highest infection rate on the continent – is considering a full national lockdown.
How bad is it in Belgium?
Belgium was one of the worst-hit countries during Europe’s first wave of coronavirus earlier this year.
Overall it has the third-highest number of Covid-related deaths per 100,000 people globally, behind only Peru and San Marino, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
From Monday, under new government restrictions designed to tackle the fresh outbreak, residents will only be allowed to see one other person from outside their household and should work from home if possible.
A curfew is in place from midnight until 05:00 for the next month and alcohol sales are banned from 20:00.
Mr Vandenbroucke described the situation in the capital Brussels and in the south of the country as “the most dangerous in all of Europe”.
The government “has only one message to the public: protect yourself, protect your loved ones, so as not to be contaminated”, he told broadcaster RTL.