Brussels wants to test people without Covid-19 symptoms again

Brussels wants to test people without Covid-19 symptoms again
Credit: Belga

The Brussels Health Inspectorate is calling to adapt and expand Belgium's current Covid-19 testing strategy again, to include all high-risk contacts, including those who do not show any symptoms.

When all seven test centres in Brussels will be opened next week, the Region will have a capacity of 9,000 test per day, meaning they will be able to test asymptomatic people again, said the head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate Inge Neven.

In the coming days, the Inter-Federal Testing Task Force will have to make a final decision as to whether people who were in close contact with an infected person but who do not show any symptoms will be tested again, from Monday 16 November.

This adapted strategy will require additional capacity, but now that the number of infections is slowing down, the Brussels test centres can handle it, according to Neven.

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"As soon as the new testing strategy is authorised, we will use it," she told the Belga press agency. "We have already carried out 9,000 tests in one day. Now we have about 3,500 tests a day, and we are opening two more centres."

All seven regional test centres in the will soon be operational, as a new test village will open in Schaerbeek on Thursday, and the seventh and final test centre will open in Anderlecht next week.

In the last week of October, the Belgian authorities adapted its testing strategy across the country as test material was becoming scarce, and lines outside testing centres were too long. The changed strategy will remain in place until at least Sunday 15 November.

Additionally, the Brussels Health Inspectorate is also calling on the population not to hesitate if they show symptoms, but to contact their doctor.

"Our fear is that there are a number of people who have symptoms but do not go to the doctor," Neven said. "We feel that because of the lockdown, people are now staying at home despite their symptoms."

Earlier on Wednesday morning, virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht warned for the same problem across all of Belgium during a press conference, saying that "testing saves lives."

"By getting tested, you can be sure whether or not you have Covid-19. Currently, just over 1 in 3 people with symptoms test positive," he said. "From contact tracing data, we know that those who test positive had an average of three close contacts during the period that they were infectious. In turn, one of those three contacts contracts Covid-19 via that infected person."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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