Testing and quarantine: Belgium decides on phasing out rules on Wednesday

Testing and quarantine: Belgium decides on phasing out rules on Wednesday
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Now that nearly all coronavirus measures are being lifted as Belgium switches to 'code yellow' today, the authorities will decide on phasing out the remaining testing and quarantining rules on Wednesday.

During the Consultative Committee on Friday, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke outlined two broad scenarios that the Interministerial Conference (IMC) on Health will consider on Wednesday.

"We will have to decide between either continuing to test all people with symptoms, or we immediately move to a strategy where we will only test people in a clinical context," he said. "But it is clear that we will not continue to test massively, like now."

While Vandenbroucke stated that it would be "unnecessary" to keep testing people who have only had a high-risk contact, no decision has been made yet. The IMC received advice from both the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) and the Risk Management Group (RMG).

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Linked to the changing testing system, the country's approach to quarantine will "no doubt" also have to change, Vandenbroucke added: "if we no longer test and trace on a large scale, it does not make much sense to say that there are quarantine measures after a high-risk contact."

According to biostatistician and member of the GEMS expert group Geert Molenberghs, the country will likely "move towards a kind of surveillance, where we keep our finger on the pulse through a network of GPs," he told De Morgen.

Still, if something is decided on Wednesday, it will take some time before it can be implemented, Vandenbroucke said. "These are rather big changes, they cannot be implemented in a day."

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