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Doctor or testing centre: where to go for a Covid-19 test

Credit: Belga

Confusion about where to get a coronavirus test has seen Belgian doctors’ workloads go up along with the coronavirus figures, but whether you have to contact your doctor for a test depends on the circumstances.

Doctors’ workloads have increased threefold compared to last year, as they have become the primary respondents to people’s concerns and an increasing number of people are turning to them for a Covid-19 test.

People who think they have contracted the virus and returning travellers, but also high-risk contacts and people who need to show a negative test before their travels, are turning to their GPs now that over 30,000 tests are being carried out per day, doctors say.

However, only people who have symptoms (such as a fever, a dry cough, aches and tiredness) should contact their GPs, preferably over the phone. The doctor will then decide whether a test is necessary.

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Travellers returning to Belgium from a stay of more than 48 hours abroad have to fill in the Passenger Locator Form to indicate where you have been. If you are returning from a red zone, you will receive a text message code with which you can get tested in a testing centre.

For travellers coming back from orange zones, testing is not compulsory so they will not receive a code. If they still want to get tested, they should contact their doctor.

People who have been in close contact with an infected person will receive a code via the contact tracers that will refer them to a testing centre.

Additionally, people who need to show a negative test to go abroad, can make an appointment with a medical laboratory directly. Once the Covid-19 testing centre at Brussels Airport is up to speed at the end of the month, departing passengers will also be able to get tested there.

According to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, simple communication towards the public and simple procedures concerning tests could be improved.

“People should know well in advance how everything works. Now, they often do not understand and go to the family doctor for advice,” he told VRT.

In theory, asking your doctor for advice is a good thing, but as Belgium’s coronavirus infections continue to rise, the system comes under pressure, Van Gucht said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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