50 million euro to increase coronavirus testing capacity

The federal authorities are investing 50 million euro in the purchase of testing equipment that will be made available to university labs to carry out tests for the novel coronavirus. The Federal Minister Philippe De Backer (Flemish liberal) told the daily ‘De Standaard’ that thanks to the investment testing capacity could be increased to a much as 70,000 test/day. 

Currently a maximum of 20,000 coronavirus tests/day can be processed in Belgium. However, virologists and GPs have warned that current testing capacity is far too low.

In the autumn people will start getting ordinary flu again and then all patients with respiratory complaints will need to be tested to see whether they have coronavirus. In a normal flu season this would come to around 70,000 people per day in Belgium.

So as to ensure that there is sufficient testing capacity the federal authorities are making significant investments.

In the first instance clinical labs were asked to increase their testing capacity. “This has been done”, Mr De Backer told VRT News.

“During the past weeks we have invested heavily and have been able to double testing capacity”. This will have brought capacity up from 20,000 to between 40,000 and 50,000 at a cost of between 5 and 10 million euro. 

However, this is not all and a further 50 million euro has now been set aside for the purchase of testing machines that will be housed in university labs. The machines should be up and running by the end of next month.

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