The government is considering introducing mobile teams ready to move among the public in an effort to limit the damage done by super-spreaders – people who are able to infect many people at one time, usually at gatherings where lots of people are present.
According to scientific research, 80% of the infections in an epidemic are caused by only 10% of infected persons. These people are not more infectious than anyone else; their ability to infect many is simply a matter of their behaviour, mainly by failing to isolate and attending events where others are present in numbers.
The latest development comes as the epidemic of Covid-19 is in daily decline in Belgium, and as the country opens up to Phase 3 of the relaxation of lockdown measures. The danger now is that as society opens up and more people come in contact with each other, the figures might once again start moving upwards as super-spreaders have a wider public to infect.
Flemish health minister Wouter Beke confirmed to De Tijd that his office is busy setting up a system of mobile teams to spot super-spreaders, but gave no details.
Professor Steven Van Gucht, however, is a virologist linked to the government health institute Sciensano, working on a nationwide level. He explained how the teams would work.
“They are sent to the place or organisation where there was super-spreading, if possible. They are trying to map out what happened and who was present when the infected person was there,” says Van Gucht.
According to the medical experts, if a person who has been infected attended a potential super-spreading event, all other present need to be traced, tested and isolated as well.
So far contact tracers have only had to deal with the limited circle of an individual, which in lockdown conditions was a small number of people. Now, however, the potential for super-spreading is far greater.
The precautions, Prof Van Gucht said, are familiar, since they have been advised since the onset of the crisis. “By keeping a safe distance, avoiding large meetings, identifying the contacts of corona patients and acting quickly at super-spreading events, we can possibly stop a second corona wave,” he said.