‘Book your test now’: extra Covid test centres for travellers open in Antwerp

‘Book your test now’: extra Covid test centres for travellers open in Antwerp
Credit: Belga

Two extra Covid-19 testing centres, set up by the Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), are opening their doors today, specifically to test travellers wanting to go on holiday.

Apart from the drive-in test centre and the pre-admission test centre, the UZA will also have a testing centre for holidaymakers from now on – located in the containers between the main entrance of the UZA and the entrance of the emergency department.

“From 9:00 AM, travellers can have a coronavirus test taken by appointment in our new test centre on the UZA campus in Edegem,” Guy Hans, medical director of the UZA, said on Flemish radio on Monday.

“In Geel, we will also start testing travellers in the current triage centre this morning,” he said, adding that “in the past few weeks, we received some signals that extra testing capacity was needed.”

“More travellers are coming in, and we do not want to jeopardise the testing of people with symptoms of illness or after a high-risk contact,” Hans added.

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While the colour codes per country currently still differ a lot, “the expectation is that Western Europe will turn green in the course of July,” said Michaël Vanmechelen of UZA in a press release.

“It is difficult to predict, it is a matter of monitoring every day. For the travellers themselves, it is easy that everything will happen automatically,” he said. “Vaccinated, tested – they don’t have to worry about it.”

For festivals such as Pukkelpop, Vanmechelen expects a peak in test requests. “Many of the attendees will not have been vaccinated yet, so we need to be able to scale up very quickly. And I can see that working.”

On Monday, the centres’ agenda for July and August was put online, meaning that travellers can book a Covid-19 test for the entire summer period already, according to Hans.

“We get a lot of questions about the free tests that the government has promised. But no problem: you can already book your test now even though you can only apply for the reimbursement code from 28 June via www.mijngezondheid.be.”

“You just bring that code along when you come to us for the test,” he said.

The private laboratory CMA in Antwerp also works according to this principle, but at the ZNA test village in Wilrijk, things are different: time slots are only available to travellers a few days in advance. In that case, anyone who wants a free test must already have a reimbursement code before they book the appointment.

The hospital also has a test centre in the Antwerp-Central train station, but it is calling on travellers not to get tested there before departure.

“The result of a PCR test in Antwerp-Central will not be sent to Sciensano for a traveller’s certificate,” Hans said. “We deliberately keep the testing capacity at Central Station for returning travellers, for tests requested by GPs and for pupils and school staff in the immediate vicinity.”

Additionally, starting this summer, UZA is also deploying test buses of the Mobile Testing Team ‘CoBUSters’ to test groups of travellers before their departure, which rides to municipalities and organisations to test travellers to take the burden off the existing test centres and GPs.

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