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'People are scared': Rubbish collectors continue in Brussels despite contamination fears

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'People are scared': Rubbish collectors continue in Brussels despite contamination fears
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While life is on hold for large parts of the population - the job of collecting rubbish continues as usual in Brussels.

The role of refuse collectors is vital in preventing a health crisis from becoming a sanitation crisis.

However, being on the frontline takes its toll - sick leave has gone up by 20 per cent since the start of the epidemic.

"It’s not easy for everyone," admits a refuse collector. "People are scared, so are my colleagues, especially those who have children. It’s not easy, but get we on with it."

Belgian authorities and unions held an emergency meeting aiming to minimise the risk of contamination.

They have agreed to reduce working hours and to improve hygienic measures on the job.

"The routes have been changed a little. Instead of taking three full loads, they do only two," explains Michel Piersoul, spokesperson for SFLP Union.

"We also asked that they carry jerry cans of soapy water or gel disinfectant in the vehicles .There are people who want additional gloves, it is allowed and they also have them in the cabin."

One adjustment has come at the expense of the environment. Paper recycling will have to to stay at home for the moment or be taken to landfill. While public safety is key, green aims are set aside.