Belgium Health Care and Vaccinations
In the event of a medical emergency dial 100. If you are an EU resident and take ill or are involved in an accident during your visit, show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) − which should be obtained from your health insurance provider before leaving the UK − to qualify for free or reduced-cost treatment. Travellers from other countries should find out if they are covered by other reciprocal arrangements. Australia, for example, has such an agreement as long as long as citizens carry their Medicare card. Comprehensive health insurance is advised for all other nationals. Belgian hospitals are of the highest standard, while staff at local pharmacies are trained to be able to advise on minor complaints. Pharmacies are recognisable in towns and villages by a green-cross sign outside the door – the sign flashes when the pharmacy is open.
Food and Drink
Restaurants and cafés adhere to the highest standards of food preparation − even the famous fritkot chip stands are well maintained. The tap water is potable, but locals do prefer to buy Spa − the local bottled variety available in still and sparkling. Eating mussels is often a concern for travellers, but it’s very rare to contract food poisoning or stomach complaints after eating a pot.
If walking in long grass check yourself for ticks afterwards; they may carry Lyme disease which manifests as a rash, fever, headache and painful muscles. If you think you’ve been bitten, seek medical advice immediately.
If you’re cycling long distances, or hiking in the Ardennes, in warm weather, it’s advisable to drink – and carry – plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing. Blisters can be another problem for hikers. These can often occur if new walking shoes are being worn across a long distance. Ideally footwear should be worn in before the trip.
If you’re spending time on the coast in summer, be sensible about how long you spend in direct sunlight. It’s often windy along the long stretches of beach and the breeze can sometimes mask high temperatures. The usual precautions apply: use a generous amount of sunscreen and wear a hat.
There have been incidences of pick-pocketing in large markets, and around Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid train station, as well as the European Union district. In these areas, keep your handbag zipped up, a wallet in a jacket pocket rather than your back pocket, and only take small amounts of cash with you.
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