Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Approximately 1 in 10 people who can no longer get tested for Covid-19 due to Belgium’s new testing strategy will only become infectious after their quarantine ends, health officials said.
“We have to realise that just under 10% of these people can still develop symptoms after 10 days,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht during a press conference on Wednesday.
“Up until now, a test was carried out on the 5th day after the last day of exposure to a high-risk contact. The main purpose of this test was to shorten the quarantine period to seven days,” Van Gucht said.
However, due to Belgium’s new Covid-19 testing strategy, people who have had a high-risk contact or have returned from a red travel zone but do not show symptoms will no longer be tested, and instead have to quarantine for ten days.
People can develop symptoms between two and 14 days after exposure, according to Van Gucht, and half of people only develop them after the sixth day. “Shortening the quarantine to seven days could therefore only be done safely if it was covered by a negative test on day 5,” he said.
Since this test will no longer be possible for the time being, the quarantine period is extended to ten days.
“However, there is still a limited risk of becoming infectious after the tenth day of quarantine,” he said, adding that it is very important that people who leave their quarantine on day 10 be extra careful for another four days.
“Always keep a distance from the people around you, wear a mask, and do not visit at-risk people during this period,” Van Gucht said.
Additionally, people who experience the slightest symptom during these four days, should stay at home and consult a doctor to get tested immediately.
“In principle, an ideal quarantine still lasts 14 days, but we know that this is very burdensome, both for the people and for the economy,” Van Gucht said.
The Brussels Times