First three national coronavirus testing “Super Labs” open in Ghent, Leuven and Mons

Coronavirus testing capacity will increase significantly from today thanks to the opening of the first three of what will be 8 so-called “super labs”. The labs that entered service on Monday morning are in Ghent (East Flanders), Leuven (Flemish Brabant) and Mons (Hainaut). The lab in Ghent has the capacity to process 7,000 coronavirus tests per day. The super labs will serve to take some of the strain off the clinical laboratories and make it possible to be able to once again test people that are asymptomatic. 

Back in the summer the then Minister responsible for coronavirus testing Philippe De Backer (Flemish liberal) promised that a national testing platform would be set up. At total of 8 university laboratories would be a part of the platform. The first 3 entered service on Monday morning, the rest will be up and running within the next two weeks. They should have a combined capacity of around 50,000 tests/day.

Ghent University’s super lab has taken on 40 staff. Their job will be to process 7,000 tests per day.

Bruno Verhasselt is responsible for the Ghent lab. He told VRT News "We undertake that we will provide the results within 24 hours”. Mr Verhasselt says that as the lab has the support of the federal authorities it will be able to maintain its level of testing as it will have enough material to carry out the tests.  

With the opening of the 8 super labs Belgium should have enough capacity to allow asymptomatic people that have had high-risk contacts or returned from countries or regions of countries with high levels of coronavirus infection to be tested again.

Mr Verhasselt says that he has high hopes that the target date of 15 November for this to be done will be met.  

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