British coronavirus variant in Kontich and Edegem “Thousands in quarantine due to negligence by a few”

Two schools in Antwerp Province will remain closed this week after pupils at the schools were found to have the British variant of coronavirus. The stricken schools are the OLFA Elsdonk primary school in Edegem and the Sint Jozef secondary school in nearby Kontich. Both schools have told parents, pupils and staff that they and all family members that live under the same roof as them must quarantine for a week. The Mayors of Edegem and Kontich have confirmed that the source of the infection is people that had travelled during the Christmas holiday and not stuck to the rules concerning quarantine on their return. 

At the school in Edegem two pupils were found to have the British variant. This was the case with one person at the school in Kontich. 

Speaking about the cases at the school in his municipality the Mayor of Edegem Koen Metsu (nationalist) stressed that the two pupils were not at school when they became infected. Mr Metsu told VRT Radio 2 Antwerp that “It quickly became clear that they have the British variant and front-line medical staff and Antwerp University Hospital were able to trace how they became infected. They are people that had travelled. I don’t know whether they were tested on their return, but the infection has now been detected and we are following up on it closely. We now need to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread any further”.

Mr Metsu went on to point to the responsibility carried by the people that are infected. "We have agreed that we won’t give any further details, but it is true that if everyone had stuck to the rules, we wouldn’t be in this difficult situation now. This is deeply regrettable. This is a great responsibility as is underlined by today’s events. If you count all the adults as well, thousands of people have been impacted by the negligence of a few individuals”. As his children are pupils at the school, Mr Metsu is one of those that are being required to quarantine. 

Drastic measures

Talks between Professors Herman Goossens and Guy Hans and the Centre for Pupil Guidance (CLB) resulted in an agreement to take drastic steps to try and prevent the further spread of the virus. 

Not only pupils and staff from the school, but all family members that live with them must now quarantine until Sunday 24 January. All pupils and staff from both schools will be tested as quickly as possible. 

Pupils and staff from the primary school in Edegem will be tested on Monday afternoon. Those from the school in Kontich will be tested on Tuesday. The results should be known by Wednesday morning at the latest. Based on the results of these tests it will be decided whether more wide-spread testing is required.

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