“All care home residents and staff will be tested”

In coming weeks all care home residents and care home workers will be tested for coronavirus.  Karine Moykens, who leads the care taskforce, says testing will be carried out in care homes for the elderly, psychiatric care homes, rehabilitation centres as well as care homes for people with a handicap.  

A first set of tests in care homes for the elderly have been carried out and residents and staff with coronavirus are being identified.  A second phase starts on Monday: 2,000 test kits are available on Monday.  More kits will be supplied in subsequent days.  The kits will first be used in residential care where the most vulnerable people are staying: the elderly, people with a handicap or mental issues.

Minister De Bakker, who heads the corona taskforce at a ministerial level, has confirmed that the objective is to test all residents and workers in care homes in coming weeks. The operation could take up to 4 weeks. So far 20,000 test kits have been distributed.  Around half have already been collected for analysis.  "We are using all available capacity, but the scale of the operation is enormous" Mr De Backer told Francophone media.

Decisions on whether care homes or hospitals will receive support from extra medical staff that are available will be taken at the local level.

Test results from care homes in Boechout (Antwerp) and Gooik (Flemish Brabant) have shown that nobody is infected. Not all the results are in, but it’s a similar story at the Sint-Bavo care home in Wilrijk (Antwerp).  Earlier results from a care home in Sint-Truiden (Limburg) showed half of residents and a third of staff testing positive.