Brussels to double number of contact tracers to keep up with rise in cases

The number of contact tracers in Brussels will more than double as officials strive to make tracing and testing efforts keep up with a rapid increase of new coronavirus infections.

Just under a hundred new tracers will be added to the call centre’s ranks from next week, Inge Neven head of Brussels’ health inspectorate, said on Thursday.

“We were working with about 75 people in mid-September and from next week we will operate with 165 call agents,” Neven told Bruzz.

The decision to hire more workers follows news that contact tracing centres in both Brussels and Wallonia were lagging behind on calls amid a steep increase of new daily cases.

“The speed of the rise is difficult to keep up with,” Neven said, adding that the majority of newly detected cases were in general called “within 48 hours.”

On Wednesday, all eyes were in Brussels as the Belgian capital emerged as a hotbed of coronavirus infections, leading regional officials to order bars to close their doors for a month.

Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort said that just under 15% of tests taken in Brussels returned a positive result, urging the population to respect social distancing and other safety measures as officials double down on efforts to avoid saturating hospitals in the region with new Covid-19 cases.

The federal government is also working on the roll-out of a coronavirus barometer which will aim to establish colour-coded risk scenarios and adapted measures of control, expected to be released within a months’ time.

While former prime minister, Sophie Wilmès, said it would be ready for launch in late September, her successor, Alexander De Croo, said that the barometer was not yet ready and that its launch would be delayed until it was “perfect.”

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Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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