Coronavirus: increase systematic testing, academics say

Coronavirus: increase systematic testing, academics say
Credit: Belga

Without increased in-depth testing, Belgium will not be in a position to phase out its current lockdown, the country's medical academics announced on Tuesday.

More virological and serological tests for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) should be carried out before measures change, said the Flemish and French-speaking Royal Academies for Medicine in a joint advisory statement on Tuesday.

The two Academies called for an "extensive and targeted screening" of fragile people and those living in vulnerable communities. Anyone who's been in contact with infected people should also be tested, they added.

Other countries successfully combined virological and serological tests with "measures regarding social distancing, individual hygiene, the use of mouth masks and targeted screening of the entire population," reducing the spread of coronavirus and the number of deaths, the academies wrote.

In Belgium, "for various reasons, these additional measures to control the epidemic have so far been insufficiently used," they said.

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The two academies also advocated longitudinal studies - which happen over an extended period - to "assess the level of the population's immunity" in various groups that would be "representative of the different layers of society."

The measures could be decisive for a lockdown phase-out, they said, as it would allow a decision "based on two key indicators, namely the degree of spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the level of group immunity," they concluded.

The Brussels Times

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