Belgium will invest €50 million to boost its capacity to test people for the new coronavirus during the upcoming flu season, a federal minister announced.
The cabinet of Federal Minister Philippe De Backer, tasked with managing Belgium's testing and face mask strategies, said that a nationwide testing platform was being set up to massively test in the fall.
The platform would seek to progressively scale up the testing capacity of clinical labs across Belgium, going from between 15,000-20,000 daily tests to between 40,000 and up to 55,000.
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"The current national platform will become a national testing platform with a capacity to perform around 40,000 tests each day in seven different sites, under the direction of university hospital laboratories," De Backer's cabinet said in a statement, Le Vif reports.
The announcement follows calls from federal health institute Sciensano for Belgium to up its testing capacity ahead of the fall, to avoid seeing the resurgence of seasonal viruses further strain the public health system.
City and regional authorities were also urged to take steps to increase their citizens' access to testing and avoid general practitioners from carrying the brunt of the testing efforts via the setting-up of dedicated testing centres.
"We cannot expect that GPs do so many tests each day," De Backer's cabinet said. "Antwerp's testing village is a good example of the ways in which we can organise the influx of [patients] — this course of action is essential for cities."
Last week, the city of Antwerp opened up a testing centre where asymptomatic people can come get tested for the new coronavirus.
The testing village has a testing capacity of 600 tests per day and drew hundreds to it on opening day.
The Brussels Times