Virologist Steven Van Gucht: "A test now is the best guaranty of a lower curve later”

At Friday morning’s National Crisis Centre press conference, the virologist Professor Steven Van Gucht said that with regard to coronavirus we have got through the festival season quite well. “Data van Google shows us that 28% more people than usual stayed at home during the holiday period. People were less mobile during the Christmas holidays than was the case during half term. But it’s the case that there was greater mobility during the last weekend of the holidays”, professor Van Gucht said. 

The Christmas holidays have had an impact on the figures. Professor Van Gucht expects the 7-day rolling average for people testing positive for coronavirus to start rising again from tomorrow. “This is also a result of testing policy fewer people were tested during the Christmas holidays and many travellers returning have been tested since”.

People that have returned from trips abroad now account for 5% of all people testing positive for coronavirus. "During the Christmas holidays this was 1 to 2%, before the holidays its was less than 1%. 3.7% of those returning from abroad test positive. This percentage varies according to which country they are returning from”.

The virologist called on people with complaints that might point to them having the virus to get tested as quickly as possible.

"There are hardly any respiratory viruses’ in circulation at the moment so always presume that the complaints are caused by coronavirus. A test now is the best guaranty of a lower curve later”. 

40% of holiday makers returning from abroad fail to take test

According to figures from the Flemish Care and Health Agency 40% of holiday makers returning from Red Zone countries fail to take a mandatory coronavirus test on their return to Belgium. 

The agency says that this amounts to around 26,000 people that have flouted the rules and failed to take the mandatory test.

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