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Belgium will stop testing people without Covid-19 symptoms

© Belga

People who do not show any symptoms of Covid-19 will no longer be tested for the virus, and will instead have to quarantine for 10 days, after a potential infection.

Being tested upon return from a red travel zone or after being in contact with someone who had tested positive, used to be mandatory for all travellers. Now, people can only get tested when they are showing symptoms.

The updated testing policy was a decision taken by Belgium’s different Health Ministers on Monday, reports VRT.

Those who are not tested must be quarantined for ten days instead of seven, according to virologist and Sciensano Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

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“After that, they will have to be careful for another four days,” he told VTM News. “Anyone showing symptoms must be tested immediately.”

By no longer testing people without symptoms, Belgium aims to reduce the too-long waiting times at testing centres.

Normally, the patients should receive the result of a Covid-19 test after a maximum of two days, but many patients are experiencing delays, with some having to wait up to five days for results.

“The system is at its limits, the labs can no longer keep up,” Van Gucht said, adding that an average of over 53,000 Covid-19 tests was carried out per day over the past week.

By no longer testing who have had a high-risk contact, for now, the pressure on the labs should decrease somewhat in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the intention is that medical staff other than doctors and nurses, such as midwives, speech therapists and trainee general practitioners should also be able to carry out these tests.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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