Contact tracers barely used registration forms in Belgian hospitality sector
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Contact tracers barely used registration forms in Belgian hospitality sector

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The registration forms that clients in bars or restaurants in Belgium had to complete to facilitate contact tracing in case of a Covid-19 infection have only been requested for research 25 times.

Even though people in Belgium have been leaving their names and contact details at bars and restaurants since it was made mandatory at the end of July, hardly anything has happened with the data, according to figures by the Flemish parliament.

In September and October, the registration lists were requested a total of 25 times for contact tracing in Flanders. 15 times in a bar, and 10 times in a restaurant, according to figures by Flemish Minister for Welfare Wouter Beke.

For the Flemish rightwing N-VA party, whose leader Bart De Wever immediately criticised the Consultative Committee’s decision to shut down restaurants this weekend, these figures confirm that bars and restaurants could have remained open.

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“If you, in the context of source research, only need the data from pubs and restaurants 25 times, it is difficult to defend the closure of the hospitality industry on that narrow base,” said MP Lorin Parys (N-VA), who requested the figures.

However, it is not that simple, according to Karine Moykens, head of the Interfederal Committee on Testing and Tracing.

“[Contact tracers] cannot just ask for these figures whenever. Only if there are indications that an infection is linked to a visit to a hospitality establishment, then we contact that establishment,” she said.

Additionally, up until the end of September, hardly any clusters were detected, monitored and mapped out: 119 in Flanders, nine in Wallonia and two in the German-speaking Community, according to figures from the Testing and Tracing Committee.

“With these figures, I understand that the population is asking questions. So am I. Flanders carried out research into 119 clusters, Wallonia into nine and there are not even any figures for Brussels,” said Parys.

“In the fight against the coronavirus, we must look for superspreaders, which you can find through cluster research,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times