Coronavirus testing capacity to be doubled by the end of the month says Belgian PM

The Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) has told VRT television news that he wants coronavirus testing capacity to double by the end of the month. Currently just over 35,000 people/day are being tested for the virus. 

Mr De Croo believes that large-scale testing is essential to our efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium. Although Belgium is among the countries that carries out a relatively large number of the tests the Prime Minister believes that we can do more “By the end of the month I want testing capacity to have doubled”. 

"We are making the necessary preparations to enable us to double capacity. This is an important element to ensure that people that have had a high-risk contact can get tested and will know quickly what their situation is”, Mr De Croo said.

The Prime Minister said once again that he realised that the authorities are asking a lot of people now that the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus have been tightened again. "It’s dragging on, but our behaviour determines the survival chances of vulnerable people. It is in our hands”.

One of the measures that came into force on Friday was the closing time for bars and pubs being brought forward from 1am to 11pm. On Thursday night footage was shot of students in Leuven that were blatantly breaking the basic rules on social distancing after they had enjoyed drinks on the city’s Oude Markt.

"This is not good. I condemn it. These are a group of people that clearly don’t understand what their responsibility in society is”, Mr De Croo said. 

"Common sense"

The Prime Minister doesn’t want to even think about a second total lockdown. He said as much during last week’s policy statement. Mr De Croo told VRT News that we are now at “an important point” and that we all need “to use our common sense” to prevent the corona epidemic getting worse.

"It is our behaviour that will be decisive in whether extra measures will need to be taken. In any case I believe that we are now able to take more intelligent measure than was the case in March and April”

"At a certain moment back then we even said to people that they weren’t allowed to sit on a bench in a park”, Mr De Croo added.

However, the Prime Minister wouldn’t be more specific about what additional measures might be taken and how these would differ from a lockdown like that in force earlier this year. 

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