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Antwerp’s neighbourhood test push sees low infection rate

Antwerp seen from the river, with the cathedral (left) and the Boerentoren (right). © Arafi/Wikimedia

A push in Antwerp to test an entire neighbourhood for coronavirus resulted in 45 positive tests for Coronavirus city officials said on Friday evening.

The Flemish authorities decided to test two of the city’s neighbourhoods because the COVID-19 infection rates there were twice as high as elsewhere in Antwerp.

Six of the 1,527 residents tested carried the UK strain of the virus, while the results of 800 pupils and teachers from around the area are still not known.

“These results are no reason to panic, but a contact-tracing investigation and strict compliance with the measures are now priority,” the alderman for Public Health, Fons Duchateau, said.

Other than the testing campaign conducted in six primary schools, whose results are not yet known, 24% of the adults in the neighbourhoods concerned agreed to undergo tests.

Despite the low number of infections so far, Mayor Bart De Wever defended the decision to test entire neighbourhoods.

“We managed in a few days to have a representative sample of two neighbourhoods in our city,” Duchateau said. “This broad research enables us to intervene surgically and avoid drastic general measures, so we shall certainly follow this approach in future if that proves necessary and useful for the medical experts.”

The Brussels Times