BRUSSELS

Some 500 people in Brussels on Sunday protested against mandatory masks and other restrictions to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Stop the measures, stop the madness” rally was organized by a civil group called Viruswaanzin (Virus craziness), which has said the government overreacted to the pandemic.

The protesters gathered in front of the Finance Ministry to show their disapproval for what they called “ill-considered public measures that restrict freedom, cause dire suffering, and harm the economy.”

Protesters pleaded for relaxed mask rules, support for the hospitality industry, and not focusing efforts exclusively on the fight against COVID-19 by marginalizing other policy areas.

They also accused the government of curbing individual rights and treating people like a “sheep” with their “sanitary dictatorship.”

In addition, protesters urged the government’s chief COVID-19 advisor, Marc Van Ranst to resign, calling him the “plague doctor.”

After a significant rise in the second part of July, the pace of new coronavirus infections in Belgium seemed to slow down over the last week.

According to the latest data from the Public Health Institute Sciensano, a daily average of 588 new coronavirus infections was registered between Aug. 6 and 12, up only 1% rise from the previous week.

Despite the promising national average, the capital has recently seen a dramatic surge in new infections. On Wednesday, the Brussels city council made masks mandatory in all public spaces.

In total, 77,869 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus since the outbreak and 9,935 patients lost their lives.

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

More than 21.4 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 771, 000 deaths, and over 13.4 million recovered.

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