Brussels ramps up contact tracing and coronavirus testing
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    Brussels ramps up contact tracing and coronavirus testing

    Credit: Belga

    Brussels is ramping up its contact tracing and testing for the new coronavirus (Covid-19), Inge Neven of the capital’s regional health inspectorate says on Thursday at a press conference for Brussels’ Regional Security Council.

    Contact tracers are currently making around 300 phone calls a day, Neven said, concerning about 60 index cases. Tracers are also calling tourists returning from red zones.

    Furthermore, they are making around 50 field visits a day. These occur when people fail to answer their phone twice in a row.

    People are getting contacted more swiftly, Neven said, and the contact tracers have developed a good method to quickly identify clusters and put in place specific communication and measures for these clusters.

    The contact tracing centre on Wednesday began asking people where they had been in past days in terms of restaurants and other places where they might meet people, in order to better trace and discover clusters.

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    Regarding testing, capacity was raised by 70% this week by increasing testing centres’ opening hours, and the goal is to increase capacity by 100% or more next week.

    From next week, there will be three special testing centres for people who want to get tested before they go abroad, so as to relieve pressure on centres testing symptomatic people, those with risk contacts and people who have returned from red travel zones.

    Furthermore, Brussels is working on putting mobile teams in place to test people on the spot.

    Finally, whole units of nursing homes will get tested from the moment there is one positive test and one other person with coronavirus symptoms. Nursing home staff in areas where there is an incidence of 21 cases per 100,000 inhabitants or more will also all have to get tested.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times