Run-up to holidays sees over 160,000 people in Belgium apply for PCR test
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Run-up to holidays sees over 160,000 people in Belgium apply for PCR test

Credit: Belga

Just two days after the two free PCR tests from the Belgian government became available, more than 160,000 people in Belgium had already applied for one, resulting in several test centres becoming overwhelmed.

Test centres across all cities in Belgium were very busy on Tuesday, even before the official start of the summer holidays on 1 July, according to reports from De Morgen.

“The reservation tool [for the codes for the free PCR tests] is running perfectly, but in some centres, there are only a few places left in the next two or three days”, said Karine Moykens, head of the Inter-Federal Testing Committee.

She added that with a total testing capacity of 150,000 tests per day, everyone can be helped anyway, but that “there is no guarantee that you will be able to go to the centre or at the time of your choice, but there is always somewhere close by.”

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The codes for two free PCR tests are available to anyone living in Belgium who has either not received a vaccine invitation yet or were invited for vaccination less than 30 days ago, has received just one of the two required doses, or received a dose of Johnson & Johnson less than 14 days ago.

People who don’t want to be vaccinated are not entitled to the two free tests.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Belgian residents wanting to use the code for a free PCR test before they leave on holidays can also go to their general practitioners, instead of going to a testing centre, but it is up to the GPs themselves whether they will perform the test or refer people to centres.

Validity of codes

The codes remain valid and can be used to make an appointment for a test up to ten days after requesting them.

According to Moykens, around 60% of the people who applied for a test did not make an appointment after receiving the necessary code.

“But those who request a code know roughly when they need to be tested. So it is best to book an appointment for a test as soon as possible,” she added.

Frank Robben, IT manager of the federal government, emphasised on Saturday during a press briefing on the free PCR tests that the codes should be used as soon as possible.

“There is no point in applying for codes now to keep them for later because then you will lose them,” Robben stressed, adding that most countries do not accept tests older than 72 hours.

To get your codes for the free PCR tests, log on to the government website (with eID, Itsme,…).