Triage and testing centres

The triage and testing centres have a dual function[1]:

  • The triage function is intended to prevent emergency departments from being unnecessarily overwhelmed and to prevent too many potentially infected patients from showing up at the general practitioner (GP) for a consultation. By setting up triage centres, the aim was to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. The patient is initially examined by a doctor, who determines whether a referral to the emergency department is necessary or whether the patient may be allowed to recover at home, possibly after a COVID-19 test. This is organised by the GP groups in close cooperation with the emergency services and can, under certain conditions, be (temporarily) stopped when the need subsides.
  • Testing was assigned to the centres as a second function to better meet the needs of public screening. Indeed, it must be possible to meet the demand for testing for any person who meets the predefined testing criteria. These include symptomatic individuals as well as asymptomatic individuals who have had a high-risk contact or who have returned from a red zone. Due to the easing of the measures for travel abroad, the centres have been requested to test travellers.

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One centre per 100,000 inhabitants has been set up, with medical coordination being entrusted to a GP group (i.e. an association of representatives of GPs within a specific region). The triage is located in one site, but the testing can be organised in different locations to make both the testing and screening more accessible.

Find out more about the locations of triage and testing centres: doclr - Covid test

To ensure sufficient capacity for analysing samples and test materials, a federal platform was set up in addition to the traditional testing circuit, organised in and by clinical laboratories. The federal platform is responsible for supplying test material, collecting and transporting the tests to the laboratories and forwarding the test results. As of 20 April 2021, a total of 60 centres were using the federal platform. The other centres work with a hospital laboratory or a private laboratory. In such cases, the laboratories themselves are responsible for supplying test material, transporting the tests performed and forwarding the results. A centre can switch to the federal platform if the laboratory can no longer complete the analysis of the tests within the predetermined time frame or if the demand for analysis exceeds the laboratory’s capacity. Once a centre has switched to the federal platform, this cooperation will continue as long as the capacity of the conventional circuits is exceeded.

You can find out more about the current procedure for when you have to be tested and where this can be done at: www.info-coronavirus.be

[1]Source: Royal Decree of 13/05/2020 no. 20 introducing temporary measures in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the continuity of care in the compulsory health care insurance.

[2]Source: DG Health Care, FPS HSFCE (31/05/2021)