Individuals with no Covid-19 symptoms will no longer be tested in Belgium. A quarantine period of ten days will instead be imposed to those individuals who believe might have been exposed to the virus or who have a reason to believe they had been infected despite the absence of symptoms.
The change in testing policy was taken by Belgium’s different Health Ministers, October 19th, as reported by Belgian news outlet VRT.
The rationale behind this decision could be understood as a means to reduce the long waiting times at testing centres. The number of people being tested had increased substantially the past few days. Another desired outcome is that not only doctors or nurses could conduct the tests but also a more diverse set of trained people such as midwives, trainee general practitioners, speech therapists, among others.
Up to the week ending on October 16th, a test had to be performed to individuals returning from a red travel zone or after being in contact with a personal who had tested positive. This is no longer the case.
According to virologist and Sciensano spokesperson, Steven Van Gucht, those who do not show symptoms but have reason to believe they might be infected ought to quarantine themselves for ten days, and remain careful for an additional four days.
In an ideal scenario, individuals being tested would receive the test results within two days. The current waiting time in Belgium, however, had reached up to five days due to the large number of tests being processed every day.
“The system is at its limits,” said Van Gucht. “The labs can no longer keep up.” An average of 53,000 Covid-19 tests were being processed every day.