All returning residents should require a negative corona test, Belgian expert warns

All returning residents should require a negative corona test, Belgian expert warns
Credit: Belga

Everyone returning to Belgium from abroad should be required to present a negative coronavirus test, regardless of if they are a resident or a tourist, according to infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe.

Speaking in De Standaard on Tuesday, Vlieghe proposed that in order to prevent a surge after the Christmas break, it is necessary to tighten Belgium's border rules beyond targeting just travellers.

As it stands, only non-residents entering Belgium have to present a negative test, a rule which has been in place since 25 December.  However, due to a massive influx of travel abroad over the holiday period, Vlieghe fears that returning travellers could cause a problem in Belgium.

"The border policy should be stricter," said Vlieghe. "From an epidemiological point of view, I don't see the difference between a non-Belgian and a Belgian who has been abroad," she added.

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While such measures would require additional framework in place - especially to cover land borders - Vlieghe sees it as a way to prevent bringing the virus from areas with worse infection levels. The logistics of the test - if it could happen at the border and what would happen if a resident tested positive - would also need to be worked out.

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has also raised his concerns about cross-border traffic and has asked for expert advice on the issue. Results from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) and GEMS - the new version of GEES - are expected by Tuesday evening.

Vandenbroucke has said this advice would then be used to potentially propose new measures. However, no meeting of the federal government is planned this week.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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