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Antwerp launches major drive-through virus testing facility

13:29 02/08/2020

The City of Antwerp will open a sprawling new Covid-19 testing site in the city’s Spoor Oost neighbourhood next week. In doing so, city officials want to prevent people without symptoms and holidaymakers from overburdening the city’s primary health care system.

At the new testing site, only people who aren’t showing any symptoms but are concerned they may have caught the virus will be able to get a swab test. This will allow general practitioners to fully focus on patients who are showing Covid-19 symptoms as well as on patients with other health concerns.

“This initiative is meant to relieve the heavy pressure on health care workers,” city councillor Fons Duchateau told De Standaard. “Antwerp’s general practitioners, emergency services and existing labs are becoming overwhelmed because a lot of people who don’t show any symptoms are seeking out testing.”

The testing site, which will operate as a drive-through of sorts, will be able to test up to 4,000 people per day. Anyone wishing to be tested site will have to register online in advance.

In the capital, too, officials are taking steps to prevent primary care facilities and health care workers from becoming overburdened. Brussels health minister Alain Maron announced on Friday morning that the opening hours of many of the city’s existing testing facilities would be extended.

The longer hours will mean that testing facilities in the city will be open for a combined 430 hours per week, up 69% from the current 255 hours.

Maron told Bruzz the extended opening hours would ensure that people who urgently need to get tested because they are showing symptoms will be able to do so. As in Antwerp, people seeking tests before going on or returning from a trip abroad have put pressure on the city’s hospitals and general practitioners.

The Brussel-Capital Region has published an overview of the testing facilities open to people without symptoms and holiday-goers, as well as those open to people with symptoms.

Photo: An impression of the planned test centre, due to open next week
© Stad Antwerpen

Written by Linda A Thompson (Flanders Today)