'This is not our job': GPs overwhelmed by demand for Covid-19 tests for travellers

'This is not our job': GPs overwhelmed by demand for Covid-19 tests for travellers
Credit: Belga

Belgian doctors are worried that the demand for Covid-19 tests will rise sharply as the Consultative Committee decided that large summer festivals and travelling abroad will soon be possible again.

They stressed that they will not be able to test everyone who wants to travel this summer but who has not yet been vaccinated.

"Besides, it is not our main task," Roel Van Giel, chair of GP association Domus Medica, said on VTM News.

"We are already noticing in the GP practices that there is a lot of demand for taking tests for travelling, and we do it, but actually it is not the GP's job to take tests for travellers," he added. "We have to deal with sick patients or people who need help."

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Additionally, big events are coming up, which will increase the demand for Covid-19 tests even more, such as the Pukkelpop festival with over 60,000 attendees who all have to be tested.

This will cause new major peaks in the workload of GPs, according to Van Giel.

"Our concern is that there will be a huge capacity demand towards the summer holidays," he said. "For us, symptomatic and high-risk contacts remain the priority."

However, at the moment, it is not yet clear whether the first dose of a vaccine will be sufficient to avoid having to test for foreign trips or festivals.

This has yet to be decided, both at the European level - which is expected to happen this month - and at a subsequent Consultative Committee in Belgium.

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