Coronavirus

A “corona” commissioner to manage the Covid-19 epidemic in Belgium

The federal government’s strategic plan to manage the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium provides in particular for the appointment of a “corona” commissioner

ATend of managing current contaminations, but also future rebounds of the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium, the federal government’s strategic plan provides in particular for the appointment of a “corona” commissioner, a much wider screening of the population and a system warning for potential homes, several Dutch-language newspapers reported on Saturday.

Marc Van Ranst, “influenza” commissioner

Although his task has not yet been specified, a “corona” commissioner will be appointed, as the virologist Marc Van Ranst was appointed in 2007 interministerial “influenza” commissioner to deal with avian flu. No name on the person in charge of this role will filter until the function is determined, according to Het Laatste Nieuws, De Tijd and Het Nieuwsblad.

In addition, the government plans in its plan to perform 50,000 tests daily during peak periods of the epidemic. However, clinical laboratories will not be able to follow this pace a priori, while the question of reagents also arises: can they be delivered in sufficient quantity? Federal Minister Philippe De Backer (Open Vld), at the head of the taskforce which manages the supply of protective equipment and the development of a screening strategy, explains in an interview with Tijd that the laboratories will have the capacity to fall, perform up to 40,000 tests per day and the government will take care of the rest. “We are currently looking for places to set up tents (to perform these tests, editor’s note). We are also going to buy the machines and products needed for screening, ”he explains.

The government’s plan says laboratories will have to deliver test results within 24 hours. If this result is positive, they will be required to notify the Sciensano Public Health Institute within two hours. The national database will thus be quickly updated.

The federal government also intends to put in place an alert system. If a business or nursing home registers two cases in one or two weeks, an alert chain will be activated up to the provincial level. If several cases are identified within the same municipality, the information must be immediately transmitted to the Ministry of the Interior and to the Crisis Center.

Watch out for seasonal flu

Another important point included in the government strategy: the management of seasonal influenza. The authorities want to vaccinate the population more widely in order to avoid an overload of work in health care in the fall, when the symptoms of Covid-19 and the flu merge.

The plan was drafted on the initiative of Minister of Health Maggie De Block (Open Vld) in consultation with many experts but has not yet received its final touch. Other ministerial cabinets as well as the federated entities must indeed contribute.

A budget of just over 35 million euros this year and 45.5 million euros in 2021 is planned to support this strategy.

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