Coronavirus testing of those that don’t display symptoms to resume from 23 November

From next Monday Belgium’s coronavirus testing strategy will be extended to cover people that are as yet asymptomatic. Prior to 21 October everyone that had returned from a so-called “Red Zone” area or had had face to face contact with someone that had tested positive was tested to check whether or not they had become infected. However, since then only people with symptoms have been given coronavirus tests. 

The news that the scope of testing is to be extended to cover asymptomatic people again comes from the Head of the Testing Working Party Professor Herman Goossens. Professor Goossens broke the news during an interview with VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’.

"We will have a daily testing capacity of 90,000 tests by the end of this month, 110,000 tests by the end of December and 115,000 tests in January”, the Antwerp University microbiologist said.  

Professor Goossens wouldn’t say whether this means that the quarantine rules will be relaxed again. The quarantine rules were tightened when the testing strategy was modified on 21 October. He said that doctors would be briefed prior to any announcement being made in the media.

As regards schools, Professor Goossens confirmed that rapid tests will be used. 

Herman Goossens added that the testing strategy has now been planned up to and including February. He added that the Testing Working Party is “now think about testing on a larger scale. Not necessarily universal testing (like for example in Slovakia) but targeted at large groups such as carers, teachers and certain essential professions”. This is being done in consultation with neighbouring countries.

But could universal testing offer us a way to be able to “save Christmas”? Professor Goossens says that universal testing would be logistically difficult and furthermore it would require those that had tested positive, but were not ill to all be prepared to self-isolate. 

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