Belgium will begin testing people with flu symptoms for Covid-19

Belgium will begin testing people with flu symptoms for Covid-19
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Belgium is looking to enlarge the criteria for being tested for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) to anyone presenting symptoms of the flu, a federal minister confirmed.

"We need to closely monitor how the virus spreads, that means you have to do a lot of testing, including people with mild symptoms," Federal Minister Philippe De Backer, responsible for Belgium's testing task force, said in a radio interview.

De Backer said that he had been pushing for Belgium to broaden the criteria for people to get a Covid-19 test, a direction the government is now taking as part of its strategy to return society to pre-lockdown conditions.

Identifying people who are potential carriers of the virus would inform and empower authorities to take the right steps, De Backer said.

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De Backer's comments come weeks into the lockdown that has brought social and economic activity to a standstill and echo early calls for wider testing criteria from experts on the ground.

But Belgium only began building up its testing capacity by late March and while De Backer said that the daily testing capacity was of over 10,000 tests per day, one of the latest updates on his website said between 6,000 and 7,000 were being carried out daily.

The digital agenda minister said that Belgium's lockdown exit strategy would now focus on ensuring wider testing samples can be collected in "screening hubs and others (sic) once the lockdown beings to be lifted."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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