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Brussels municipality to offer PCR tests free-of-charge

From today the Brussels municipality of  Sint-Joost-ten-Node will be offing its residents PCR tests for coronavirus free-of-charge. As well as being the capital’s smallest municipality, Sint-Joost-ten-Node is also the poorest municipality in Brussels. The free PCR tests are just one element in the municipal authorities’ Covid Plan that has been launched ahead of the new school year. 

A bus containing a mobile vaccination centre will be at various locations in Sint-Joost-ten-Node from today and the municipality's own local vaccination centre we reopen again from Thursday. The hope is that this will serve to increase the number of people in the municipality that are vaccinated against coronavirus. Currently the percentage of people immunised against coronavirus in Sint-Joost-ten-Node is the lowest of any municipality in the Brussel-Capital Region. In turn the Brussels-Capital Region has the lowest vaccination rate anywhere in Belgium.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ the Mayor of Sint-Joost-ten-Node Emir Kir (independent, photo above) said that “It is important that we offer as many opportunities as possible for people to be able to live without risk”.

Mr Kir added that by bringing vaccination and testing closer to the people that live in his municipality it will make them more accessible to them.

Currently just 48% of the population of Sint-Joost-ten-Node has been fully immunised against coronavirus. Mr Kir believes that there are two main reasons for the low vaccination rate. “We have the youngest population in the country. During the vaccination campaign the old and the weak came first. Most of our residents don’t fall into this category. This has changed now that it is the turn of the younger population”.

In addition to this poverty also plays a role. "This is a real problem and poverty means that you don’t have the same opportunities with regard to access to medical care”

Nevertheless, Mr Kir is optimistic “The figures are going to be good. Our figures are currently not too bad either. Many of our neighbours are a long way behind”. 

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