The official green light for the deployment of rapid tests by general practitioners and in testing centres was given by Domus Medica, the Flemish association of GPs.
This decision was taken following a large-scale pilot project, which received a positive evaluation.
Over the past three weeks, around ten general practices and six testing centres across Belgium have been using the rapid tests on a trial basis, on patients who have been showing possible Covid-19 symptoms for up to five days.
These tests provide results within 15 minutes.
The number of tests performed in GPs offices is significantly higher than in centres (60% versus 18%).
This is likely due to the greater number of asymptomatic people who present themselves in the testing centres, such as after a high-risk contact or after a stay abroad. These people, however, are not eligible for the rapid test.
For general practitioners, working with rapid tests offers an important advantage, according to Domus Medica.
“If the GP can rule out Covid-19 infection in a sick patient more quickly, they can make a different diagnosis,” the association said. “If the patient tests positive, the GP can immediately discuss the results and give instructions.”
“Now, we can start the roll-out of rapid tests in all GP offices and in all testing and sorting centres,” said Professor Ann Van den Bruel, head of the research.
“The rapidity of the tests increases individual patient care and contact follow-up can be started immediately. In this way, we can control the epidemic more quickly.”