The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person will only have to undergo one Covid-19 test.
From now on, vaccinated people will only have to undergo a test on day one after they have been notified that they were in contact with an infected person, and no longer on day seven, the various ministers of public health decided on Saturday.
However, the coronavirus contamination could still show up – or may not be detectable – even a few days after a contact, which is why "we will ask them to be careful and to have as few contacts as possible during the following days," Flemish Minister Wouter Beke told VRT News.
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Meanwhile, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people have to stay in quarantine until they get a negative result. Those who have not been vaccinated still have to be tested on day one and day seven.
Experts and virologists have previously recommended that vaccinated high-risk contacts should be tested once but on day five instead of on day one.
Pressure on labs and contact tracing
The easing of this rule could help relieve pressure on the test and trace centres as well as the laboratories that process the tests. Last week, the highest number of tests were taken in seven days since the start of the pandemic, resulting in labs becoming overrun.
As more people are also testing positive with coronavirus - the highest number of new infections since the start of the pandemic was recorded on Monday - the test and trace centres tasked with reaching out to high-risk contacts of infected people are "completely overrun."
The government will soon introduce a new tool to relieve pressure on these centres by allowing infected people to log potential high-risk contacts on a website, where those who are notified of a high-risk contact through the Coronalert app can also register online and receive a test code.