Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic nearly two years ago, some 120,000 Brussels residents have been visited by so-called “field agents” from the Government’s Covid-19 testing and tracing department.
The Joint Community Commission (Cocom) and the health insurance funds have deployed more than 60 field agents every day to warn people of an infection or a high-risk contact, inform patients of health measures, and even offer help to those who need it most.
“They give a face to the tracing process and, thanks to their human approach, build a relationship of trust,” the Cocom said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“The agents answer questions about vaccination, travel, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), and so on. If a question lies outside their competence, they refer it to the right service, such as municipal services or health insurance funds.”
One of the biggest assets of the field agents is that they can reach people who are difficult to reach by phone, and they can relay difficult social situations, according to the head of the Brussels Health Inspectorate Inge Neven.
“The agents have different backgrounds and come from different communities. Together they are proficient in dozens of languages, from English to Swedish and from Arabic to Vietnamese,” she said.
The field agents are spread over eight zones, each covering two to four municipalities, with five to ten agents per zone. Due to this geographical spread, the field agents can specialise, detect infection clusters more quickly and get to know the population better.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the team has already made nearly 120,000 visits,” said Cocom. “For example, 41,000 infected people have already received a visit from a field agent, in addition to nearly 26,000 high-risk contacts and more than 49,000 travellers.”