The students were to have started nursing courses in Leuven (Flemish Brabant) and Aalst (East Flanders). The 20 students that have tested positive are part of a group of 43 students. They arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport on 12 April and travelled by coach from there to their final destinations here in Flanders.
Quarantine rules have been followed to the letter and they have been in quarantine since their arrival. The virologist Marc Van Ranst said that the students may have become infected on the plane or while they were waiting in line for a coronavirus test at the airport in France. They were given PCR tests in India before departure and rapid tests on their arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport. All the tests were negative.
Professor Van Ranst believes that the most likely explanation is that they became infected during the coach trip from the airport to Aalst and Leuven.
The first students started to become ill on 17 April. They were tested and it was found that they had the Indian variant of coronavirus. As they have been in quarantine the only other person with whom they have had close contact is the driver of the coach that brought them from Paris. However, he has tested negative.
Most of the students that have become ill only have mild symptoms. None have been hospitalised. The strict quarantine measures for the 43 students have been prolonged. The students will be given the necessary support from their respective nursing collages.