All returning residents should require a negative corona test, Belgian expert warns
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
Everyone returning to Belgium from abroad should be required to present a negative coronavirus test, regardless of if they are a resident or a tourist, according to infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe.
Speaking in De Standaard on Tuesday, Vlieghe proposed that in order to prevent a surge after the Christmas break, it is necessary to tighten Belgium’s border rules beyond targeting just travellers.
As it stands, only non-residents entering Belgium have to present a negative test, a rule which has been in place since 25 December. However, due to a massive influx of travel abroad over the holiday period, Vlieghe fears that returning travellers could cause a problem in Belgium.
“The border policy should be stricter,” said Vlieghe. “From an epidemiological point of view, I don’t see the difference between a non-Belgian and a Belgian who has been abroad,” she added.
While such measures would require additional framework in place – especially to cover land borders – Vlieghe sees it as a way to prevent bringing the virus from areas with worse infection levels. The logistics of the test – if it could happen at the border and what would happen if a resident tested positive – would also need to be worked out.
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has also raised his concerns about cross-border traffic and has asked for expert advice on the issue. Results from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) and GEMS – the new version of GEES – are expected by Tuesday evening.
Vandenbroucke has said this advice would then be used to potentially propose new measures. However, no meeting of the federal government is planned this week.