'Beyond territorial reasoning': Brussels testing centres open to everyone

'Beyond territorial reasoning': Brussels testing centres open to everyone

Last week, the Brussels municipality of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode opened its municipal coronavirus testing centre for all people living in the Brussels-Capital Region, making it one of the last ones to do so.

"The situation in Brussels is such that we have to act in the general interest of the public by going beyond purely territorial reasoning," mayor Emir Kir said. "We have decided to make it accessible to all those who meet the conditions to take advantage of this test. It is a matter of public health and an act of solidarity," he added.

This move leaves Molenbeek-Saint-Jean as the sole Brussels municipality whose centre is reserved for the people living there, as all other centres are open to whoever has to get tested, according to Karima Amrous, communication officer for the Brussels-Capital Region's testing and tracing task force.

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Additionally, while the focus is on Brussels' residents, no one will be turned away from most testing centres in the Region. "No one is going to say: 'no, if you are from Antwerp, coming for a test here is not possible'," she told The Brussels Times. "You never know what happens. If you need to be tested, you need to be tested."

As the coronavirus is still very present in Brussels, many people departing and returning from holidays in red or orange zones, the demand for tests has increased sharply in Brussels, as well as throughout the rest of the country.

Mid-August, only about 50% of travellers returning to Brussels from red zones were tested, while in the last two weeks 71% have done so, according to figures from the Brussels Common Community Commission (CCC).

However, it is not possible for anyone to just show up and get tested in any testing centre. "There are three types of different centres, and you need to make sure you go to one that suits your situation," she added.

To make sure that people can more easily find a centre for their needs, the Brussels-Capital Region has created an interactive map on which people can find centres close-by, based on whether or not they have a prescription or a text message code.

When opening the map, it is possible to select what kind of centre you are looking for. The red markers on the map indicate that the centre is only for people with symptoms and a medical prescription from their GP.

The yellow ones are for people without symptoms, but who received a text message or a code to get a PCR test. These centres are mainly for people returning from red zones, or people who have been contacted by tracers.

Lastly, the blue markers indicate private testing centres, for people who need to provide a negative test before they travel or have to get tested for another reason. Doctor's prescriptions or text messages are not necessary, but the tests will not be reimbursed by your social security agency.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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