Belgium is launching a pilot project with saliva tests taken at home from teachers in primary and secondary schools to quickly detect possible Covid-19 infections in schools and prevent outbreaks.
The home saliva testing will start in the week of 22 February in several Flemish, Brussels and Walloon schools (on a voluntary basis), according to Belgium's different health and education ministers who approved the project on Wednesday.
"These saliva tests are a relatively easy way to detect possible infections early and to avoid infecting pupils, or whole classes and schools," they said. "Various measures have already been taken, and now a new defensive wall around our schools is being built."
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During the project, a total of about 2,000 to 2,500 teachers and supervisors will take a sample of morning saliva from themselves at home every week for six weeks, which will then be tested for Covid-19 using PCR analysis.
"It is crucial for our children and young people that schools can remain open," the ministers said, adding that infections have to be detected as quickly as possible, so possible outbreaks can be contained right away.
As the saliva is collected at home, there will be no risk of infecting others during the collection, and there is no need for extra protective material or extra personnel is needed, the ministers underlined.
The Brussels Times