Volunteer Machteld Verbruggen told VRT News that language and cultural barriers mean that a considerable number of people cannot be reached by the official contact tracers.
“The first clusters of infections in Antwerp were in an area where a lot of newcomers live. Of course words such as quarantine and illness are not the most obvious terms to understand. The students give an explanation about the illness and what you can do to limit its spread”.
The students try to create a sense of trust between themselves and the patients. “Trust is very important. Some newcomers have had bad experience with the authorities in the past. These people want to do the right thing but don’t know how they can. There is also a form of shame because no one wants to be seen as being infectious. Trust is of the essence”, Ms Verbruggen added.