Coronavirus: Wallonia to finalise nursing home testing by Sunday
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Coronavirus: Wallonia to finalise nursing home testing by Sunday

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All nursing homes in Wallonia will have been screened for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) by Sunday, the regional health minister said Wednesday.

In a radio interview, Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale said that so far around 5% of personnel and 12% of residents had tested positive for the virus in the region’s 602 homes.

The French-speaking region began testing all staff and residents in nursing homes on 15 April with test kits provided by the federal government’s testing task force.

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In an email dated 17 April, a spokesperson for Wallonia’s regional health agency AVIQ said that 136 infection clusters (of more than 10 confirmed cases) had been detected at that point.

“We are testing between 4,000 and 6,000 people in nursing homes each day,” Morreale said, adding that the completion of the tests on Sunday would give officials a clear vision of the situation in the live-in care centres.

As Belgium’s death toll rose in April, nursing homes emerged as major infection clusters and currently make up for 53% of the total 7,501.

A lack of widespread testing means that not all of the nursing home deaths chalked up to Covid-19 were confirmed by a test, a mortality tracking strategy that has sparked opposing views from officials within the federal government’s coronavirus task force.

Once the testing is completed in nursing homes, Wallonia will begin testing live-in health facilities for mental health care centres or residences for people with disabilities.

The completion of the testing strategy comes as the Walloon government announced that visits to nursing homes will be once again allowed but under strict conditions.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times