Covid-19: overloaded Brussels contact tracers switch to texting

Covid-19: overloaded Brussels contact tracers switch to texting
Credit: Belga

Brussels contact tracers have switched from calling to texting as they can no longer keep up with the rise in infections, Karine Moykens, head of the interfederal testing and tracing committee, told De Standaard.

People in Brussels who have been in close contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19 will receive an SMS with a test code, as is the case for travellers returning from a so-called red zone.

In addition, the number of contact tracers will be increased to 200.

As the region’s tracing capacity reaches its limits, testing capacity could reach its limits by the end of the week, according to Inge Neven of the Brussels health inspection.

“Three test centres have just been added, and I can see a margin there, although it is not very large,” Neven said. “The faster the virus progresses and the more infections there are, the faster we need to build test centres. At some point we will no longer be able to follow.”

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While more testing centres are coming, including one at the Heysel next week, laboratories are also having a hard time keeping up, according to Neven. “In the next few days, we will have to devise a test strategy, both at a regional and a federal level,” she said, adding that “we are working together with various scientific committees” to achieve this.

Brussels has counted 28,049 confirmed cases since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with a daily average of 880.7 new cases in the last 7 days, a 52% rise compared to the week before.

Almost 1 in 5 inhabitants of Brussels who were tested for Covid-19 over the past week received a positive result, and while the rise is less pronounced than in the rest of the country (with a 93% rise at a national level), this is likely because the region’s testing capacity is being put to the test so much, according to Sciensano virologist Steven Van Gucht.

In total, 173,240 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Belgium, according to Sciensano, and the incidence of the past two weeks was 467.8 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Brussels Times

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