Brussels’ lower coronavirus (Covid-19) infection rates could be due to underreporting, according to general practitioners, who call on politicians to increase space and staff for testing for the virus.
Only one of Brussels’ communes was over the alarm threshold of 20 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, and infections in Brussels as a whole dropped by 6%, while infections increased by 500% in Antwerp.
According to general practitioners, part of the explanation could be long waiting times for test results. “In the Brussels-Capital Region, private laboratories were chosen to process the tests, which take up to five days to publish the results of a test,” Tine Duchausoit, a doctor in Jette, pointed out.
“That’s bad news for contact tracing, and discourages patients from staying in during that waiting period,” she said.
In addition, there are not enough hospitals for testing based on the recommendation of having at least one testing centre per 100,000 inhabitants. Only four hospitals are offering testing, which does not cover that ratio.
Furthermore, patients who want to be tested cannot voluntarily go to a testing centre during the weekend, and need a form from their doctor, which can further delay testing times. On top of that, over 30% of people in Brussels don’t have a general practitioner.
Meanwhile, Brussels health inspection head Inge Neven says that there have been more tests in the last two weeks than before and that the underreporting is relative. The procedure is also still being tinkered with in order to make it run more smoothly, according to Neven.