Belgium shortens mandatory quarantine after Covid-19 exposure
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    Belgium shortens mandatory quarantine after Covid-19 exposure

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    People who have had close contact with a Covid-19 patient can now request a second PCR, or diagnosis, test in order to shorten their mandatory 14-day quarantine, a federal health institute decided.

    An update to the official guidelines for doctors overseeing close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 says that doctors can now request an asymptomatic close contact of a Covid-19 patient to be screened twice in order to possibly shorten their mandatory self-isolation period.

    “This second test can be performed no sooner than nine days after the last risky contact. If the second PCR test is negative, the self-isolation can be terminated — no sooner, then, than ten days after exposure,” federal health institute Sciensano wrote.

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    Close contacts of Covid-19 patients had until now been subject to a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days even if the results of their first test was negative.

    Steven Van Gucht of federal health institute Sciesano told Het Nieuwsblad that “about 85% of cases” had negative tests first results but still needed to self-isolate for two weeks due to the incubation period of the virus.

    The updated quarantine guidelines were endorsed by Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke and Federal Minister Philippe De Backer, who had been tasked with beefing up Belgium’s testing strategy.

    Shortening the quarantine period of asymptomatic patients tested twice will mean that temporary unemployment leaves will be shortened for employees who do not have the option to work from home.

    Shrinking the self-isolation period is not an option, Van Gucht said: “We would be treading on thin ice and run the risk of overlooking potentially infected people.”

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times