Contact tracers will be able to reach out to red-zone returnees who fail to get a coronavirus mandatory test from this Wednesday.
“Travellers who are coming back [to Belgium] from a red zone automatically receive an SMS with a QR code,” Pierre Cools, spokesperson for Wallonia’s contact tracing centre told the Belga news agency, referring to those who fill in the passenger locator form (PLF) online.
“If they do not get tested upon their return, their contact information will automatically be forwarded to one of our agents for them to call them.”
Contact tracers and authorities currently have no course of action to follow up on or enforce testing or quarantine on red or orange zone returnees who do not fill in the PLF, meaning some could be flying under the radar.
Currently, nearly one out of every three persons who have returned to Belgium from a red travel zone does not get tested in the required time frame.
Contact tracers from all three regional centres, in Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders, will begin reaching out to those who have declared to have come back from a red zone but who do not get tested within 48 hours.
The information which contact tracers will have access to are residents’ name, last name, address and phone number.
Cools said that tracers in Wallonia are currently seeing a hike in the number of people who they must contact after a positive test, saying that, on Sunday alone, 227 people had to be contacted.
Unlike those returning from a red zone, quarantine and testing are not mandatory for orange zones but are strictly recommended.
Out of the people coming back to Belgium after a stay in a red zone, 28,000 were returning from Spain, 19,000 from France and 15,400 from Turkey.
Nationwide, compliance from red zone returnees with the testing obligations remains high, with Karine Moykens, who chairs the Interfederal Testing and Tracing Committee.
Moykens said that 70% of returnees have so far gotten tested, although the rate varies depending on the region: standing at 78% among Flemish residents and dropping to 67% and 63% in Brussels and Wallonia, respectively.