Coronavirus: testing approved for suspected cases in prisons, nursing homes
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Coronavirus: testing approved for suspected cases in prisons, nursing homes

Credit: Belga

Testing must now also be carried out on suspected cases of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in nursing homes, prisons and housing centres, according to updated government directives.

Health research institute Sciensano on Sunday added residents of nursing homes, inmates and residents of social housing to the list of patients who should be tested for the virus.

Previously, only symptomatic medical staff and hospitalised patients were eligible for testing, with patients presenting mild symptoms only told to stay at home in isolation.

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The testing criteria was enlarged to include those in “residential collectives” citing the “importance and the logistical implications” of implementing “appropriate isolation” conditions.

If an infection cluster emerges from the testing, in which several tests turn out positive, additional testing is not necessary, with the institute saying the number of tests in such cases should be capped at five.

Official guidelines to prevent infection clusters in these communities already included the scrapping of all visits to inmates, as well as bans on visits to nursing home residents enacted in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia.

The new testing directives come after the government announced the creation of a task force working to scale the country’s testing capacity to 10,000 tests every day, up from the previous 2,000.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times