Government has ready new Covid testing strategy


It has been determined who will be tested as a priority in a possible new outbreak of the corona virus this winter.

The Belgian anti-corona saar Steven Van Gucht announced this during the update of the corona figures by Sciensano, the federal knowledge center that assists the government in the health crisis.

‘With 20 to 25,000 tests per day, Belgium is in the European group of countries that test the most per inhabitant. It is expected that during the peak of the flu epidemic by February, when people have all kinds of covid-like complaints due to all kinds of viruses, up to 70,000 tests per day will be required. This will be necessary to determine who exactly has covid-19 (the disease that determines the coronavirus and who does not) ‘, says Van Gucht.

With 20 to 25,000 tests per day, Belgium is in the European flock of countries that test the most per inhabitant.

Steven Van Gucht

Virologist Sciensano

At ministerial consultation between the federal government and the federal states, a strategy was therefore finalized this week about how testing will take place. The common thread is as the virus starts to circulate more intensely in our territory, certain groups will lose weight. Van Gucht: ‘The groups with the lowest priority are the first to drop out if shortages in test capacity should nevertheless arise.

Three phases

Stage 1 is when the virus is low in circulation. That is statistically determined at less than 15 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks. Then testing can be done quite broadly, including tourists who return from an orange area with a lot of virus in circulation or people who have no symptoms but have been in contact with an infected person. ‘Testing can take place without much distinction.’

Phase 2 is when there are 15 to 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 2 weeks. Then the priorities change slightly. Travelers returning from the orange zone will then no longer have to be tested. ‘

In phase 3, there is intense circulation – more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Van Gucht: ‘Among other things, travelers returning from the red area will no longer be tested, but they will still have to be quarantined. High-risk cases will only be tested once instead of twice now. When a municipality or a larger area is in phase 3, it will also be possible to screen staff of residential care centers for infection with the virus no more than once a week. Preventive screening – in people who are not sick or have no symptoms or when there is no sign of an outbreak within a company, school or organization – is not recommended. ‘

Clinical labs

The clinical labs are asked to continue to expand their capacity. It concerns dozens of labs – a mix of hospital and smaller private labs – that are officially registered with Sciensano as a covid test lab. When local shortages arise, the labs will be able to send samples to each other, or in the second instance to the federal test platform. This joining of forces between a number of pharmaceutical and biomedical companies will guarantee extra buffer capacity.

Today everyone is being tested on who is suspected of having Covid-19 in play. Special attention is paid to care workers and residents and staff of collective institutions, such as retirement homes, centers for the disabled, reception centers or prisons. A second group are travelers returning from foreign corona hotspots. Even those who are admitted to hospital or who receive an intake in a collective institution for the first time are now being tested.


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