'Tip of the iceberg': half of Brussels infections due to returning travellers

'Tip of the iceberg': half of Brussels infections due to returning travellers
Test centre at Brussels Airport. Credit: Belga

The share of coronavirus infections coming from travellers in the Brussels-Capital Region is increasing, as returning travellers are now responsible for half of all detected cases.

The proportion of Covid cases detected among returning travellers has risen from one-third of the total number of positive cases in Brussels to about one half in just a week, according to the latest data presented at the weekly press briefing of the Common Community Commission (COCOM) on Tuesday.

"49% of positive cases are explained by travellers testing positive, and this percentage is increasing week after week," the authorities said. "It is only the tip of the iceberg."

In the week of 8 to 15 August, 50,000 people returned to Brussels, with a positivity rate of 6.1% for travellers coming from red zones and 8.4% for high-risk countries.

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"The positivity rate among travellers is increasing and is higher than the average positivity rate for Brussels," they added.

According to the data, Morocco seems to be the lead country, as more than one-tenth (11.3%) of the 4,900 returning holidaymakers from there tested positive.

Additionally, COCOM and Brussels Health Minister Alain Maron continued to stress the importance of checks on people's Passenger Location Form (PLF), and also called for the reintroduction of day 1 and day 7 tests for travellers returning to Brussels from abroad.

They also note that not everyone completes their PLF, and that only 88% of returning travellers who have to get tested actually do so.

Additionally, 25 extra field agents are being recruited to check the tracing in the field again.

People who return from a red zone and have not received a code for a test can now register for free until 15 September to get tested in one of the Brussels test centres.

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