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Contact tracing: slowing down the virus together

Contact tracing means that we look for the people with whom a sick person has had contact. This enables these contact persons to quickly get the right advice.

Contact investigation in Belgium is a collaboration between the Walloon AVIQ, the Services of the United College (COCOM) in Brussels, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community.

I have COVID-19 symptoms myself

  • Do NOT call your GP, but complete the online questionnaire. If it turns out that you are best tested, you will receive a test code which you can use this to make an appointment at a testing center or lab, or at a pharmacist. On this list you will find the pharmacists where you can have yourselve tested.
  • If you run a higher risk of serious COVID-19 (eg pregnancy, diabetes, heart-renal, liver or lung diseases, cancer , etc.), you should consult a doctor.
  • Stay in your house.
  • Avoid contact with people who live in your house.

Do you test negative? Then you may leave your house again.

Do you test positive?

  • Stay in isolation for at least 7 days.
  • Try to make a list of the people you have had contact with in the past days. Think about the people you met from two days before you had symptoms (e.g. your colleagues, a friend you went for a walk with, your own family members, the postman, etc.).
  • Your list of contacts should preferably include their name, telephone number, address, date of birth and e-mail address.
  • You can also report your contacts using the online form. More information about the online form can be found here.

A government employee will call you from the number 02/214.19.19. It is important that you answer the employee’s questions as fully as possible:

  • He or she will ask you about the list of contacts you drew up.
  • You should give some extra information about yourself in order to be able to assess the situation as concretely as possible: your date of birth, general state of health, profession, contact with people at risk, etc.

This data will be treated confidentially. Thanks to your contribution, your contacts can be notified in good time and they can follow up any symptoms well.

I may have come into contact with someone who is a carrier of Covid-19

Have you come into contact with anyone who might be ill right now? Were you in contact with this person for some time (more than 15 minutes) and up close (within a distance of 1.5 metres)? (For example: a housemate, a colleague sitting next to you in the office, a friend from school). This is known as higher-risk. What are you requested to do in this case?

Did you have a high-risk contact within your household?

  • You should not quarantine or get tested.

  • It is recommended that everyone (vaccinated or not) wear a mouth mask for 7 days after the high-risk contact for contacts outside the household or, if a mouth mask is not possible, self-test daily. If you test positive, you have to go into isolation.

Did you have a high-risk contact outside your household?

  • You should not quarantine or get tested.

Have you come into brief or distant contact with people in the supermarket or with a colleague who is not sitting next to you at work? This is known as lower-risk contact.

What about my data?

Naturally, your information will be treated in complete confidence. How do we do this? 

Your data, and the data of those people with whom you have been in close contact, has been collated and processed in Sciensano’s database, the national public health institute of Belgium.

We keep this data for 3 reasons:

  1. to be able to track and contact the patients concerned through a contact centre
  2. to provide relevant information to the region’s health, prevention and inspection services in order to minimise the spread of the virus
  3. to enable scientific, statistical and/or policy research, after pseudonymisation or anonymisation of the data.

We take the protection of your personal data very seriously. Access to these data is, therefore, limited to:

  1. the contact centre
  2. the region’s health, prevention and inspection services
  3. scientists associated with the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group. Along with the Sciensano technicians who maintain the database, they will treat your data confidentially. Scientists do not have access to nominative data. Data intended for scientific research will be kept in a separate environment under a pseudonym for up to 30 years after the patient’s death.

The contacts on your list will not hear your name when they are called. You will remain anonymous. The information you provide will at no time be used to verify your compliance with the measures. It will not be shared with the police, judiciary or other inspection bodies.

You can be contacted by phone, sms, e-mail or someone can visit you at home.

Frequently asked questions

    Z
    Detailed information on the screening procedure is available on the Sciensano website: https://epidemio.wiv-isp.be/ID/Pages/2019-nCoV_procedures.aspx.
    What exactly is contact tracing?

    Contact tracing is a preventative method of investigating with whom someone has been in contact if that person turns out to be a carrier of the coronavirus, or in some cases is very likely to be a carrier of the virus. If we can trace these people quickly, we can inform them that they may also be carriers of the virus and give them the right advice.

    Contact tracing is a method used worldwide to limit the spread of diseases and has already been used for measles, for example. In Belgium, contact investigation is a collaboration between the Walloon AVIQ, the Services of the United College (COCOM) in Brussels, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community.

    Contact tracing requires the cooperation of people infected with Covid-19 , as they will be asked to identify their contacts. This cooperation is essential to help slow the spread of the virus.

    Why are we doing contact tracing now?
    Contact tracing is only feasible and useful when the number of infections is limited. During the peak of the number of infections, it was impossible to contact every ill person and ask who he or she had been in contact with. It will help us to identify a second wave of the virus in good time and to be able to intervene in order to slow down its spread.
    Am I obliged to cooperate with the contact tracing?
    Your contribution can help yourself and others. Thanks to your help, others can be informed and advised in good time. The more contacts we can trace in time, the smaller the risk of a new wave of infections. This is how we can avoid strict new measures together. Cooperation is therefore not compulsory, but is a form of solidarity and a civic duty. Cooperation is therefore not compulsory, but is a form of solidarity and a civic duty in the fight against Covid-19.
    Which contacts will I have to indicate and who will be traced?
    If you yourself have tested positive for Covid-19 or have suspected symptoms, it is important to know the contacts you had in the two days before your first symptoms appeared and up to the time you started your isolation. (e.g. family members, colleagues, a friend you took a walk with, the postman you talked to, etc.). If possible, your list should include the name, phone number, physical address and email address of these people. The following is a form to help you to complete this list : https://d34j62pglfm3rr.cloudfront.net/downloads/Liste+des+contacts+%C3%A0+remplir.pdf.
    Is my data sufficiently protected in this contact follow-up?

    Yes, the information will be treated in complete confidence.

    • The information you provide will only be used to give the necessary advice to your contacts. This is how you can help slow down the virus.

    • Only the authorised service will have access to your contact list. Not your work, family, school, police, other government services, etc.

    • If you are infected with Covid-19 and you stay or are in regular contact with a community such as a residential and care centre, an institution for the disabled, school, … then the reference doctor will be contacted.

    • The contacts on your list will not hear your name when they are called. You will remain anonymous.

    • The person who calls your contacts is sworn to secrecy. Your data will be stored in a secure government database.

    • The information you provide will at no time be used to verify your compliance with the measures. It will not be shared with the police, judiciary or other inspection bodies.

    How is the government notified?
    More information on tracing according to your region: the Walloon AVIQ, the Services of the United College (COCOM) in Brussels, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community.
    When does contact tracing start?
    More information on tracing according to your region: the Walloon AVIQ, the Services of the United College (COCOM) in Brussels, the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the Ministry of the German-speaking Community.
    How will I be contacted?
    The staff member of the authorities may contact you in different ways: by phone via 02/214.19.19, by mail, email, or SMS via the number 8811. These are the only numbers that will be used. If you do not respond to the calls, a staff member may come to your home.
    What if I can't list everyone?

    It’s inherent to contact tracing that you cannot list everyone. This is okay. However, try to list as many contacts as possible so that we can give the right advice to all possible contacts. This is especially important for people with whom you have had close contact, i.e. with whom you have been in contact for more than 15 minutes at a distance of less than 1.5 metres.

    As a result, it remains extremely important that you continue to follow the basic approaches:

    • Stay at home if you are ill

    • Wash your hands often and thoroughly

    • Keep a 1.5-metre distance from other people

    • Limit your physical social contact as far as possible. Meet up with family and friends mainly through online applications.

    Can I go to work if I have been in contact with a Covid-19 patient?
    Yes.
    I have had contact with a high-risk contact. Am I now a high-risk contact too?
    No, you are a high-risk contact if you have been in contact with someone who is ill.
    What should I do if I have to go into home isolation when I am ill myself?
    I live with a person at risk (for example: a person over 65 years of age or a person with a chronic illness) and I have had contact with a person who is a carrier of Covid-19. Do I need to take any special precautions?
    We recommend that you apply the isolation advice that applies to patients as much as possible : self-isolate at the home of your vulnerable cohabitant, stay in one room, do not sleep together, use separate sanitary facilities, use separate cutlery, ventilate your home regularly, etc.
    What is the high-risk contact follow-up form?
    The online high-risk contact follow-up form is a tool that allows anyone who is positive for COVID-19 to inform any person who would be a high-risk contact during the 2 days prior to the result: • the duration of contact (longer than 15 minutes) • the distance between people (less than 1.5 metres)
    What information should I provide about high-risk individuals with whom I have been in contact while positive for COVID-19?
    Once you receive the positive result of your test, prepare the tracing work: • Identify your close contacts during the two days prior to a positive result (surname, forename, phone number, e-mail address, area of residence) • Make a list of the places you visited. (The places you visit often should not be entered on the online form. The call centre will contact you afterwards to collect this information.) • Try to identify the possible source of your infection
    What are the criteria I should bear in mind when considering whether a person is a high-risk contact if I am positive for COVID-19?
    A high-risk contact is defined in a simple way based on two criteria: • the duration of contact (longer than 15 minutes) • the distance between people (less than 1.5 metres).
    What are the conditions for informing high-risk contacts via the online form?
    It is necessary to have a positive result for COVID-19.
    From when can people who are positive for COVID-19 inform high-risk contacts via the online form?
    After 2 December, anyone who receives a positive result for COVID-19 will automatically have access to the online form to notify high-risk contacts. If your mobile phone number is known to the tracing system, you will also receive a text message via the number 8811 when the form is available, inviting you to complete it.
    I am COVID-19-positive or I am a high-risk contact; how will I be contacted?
    You will be contacted either: • by telephone from the number +32 (0)2 214 19 19 • by text message from the number 8811 • through the Coronalert app. These are the only resources that will be used.
    How does telephone contact with the Tracing contact centre work?
    • The staff member will ask you some questions about your health and the people with whom you have had recent contact. You may also ask some questions. • For each person you identify, you will be asked about the duration of the contact and the distance you kept from that person to assess the risk of contamination. • It is important that you answer the contact centre’s questions as fully and openly as possible. Your co-operation is essential to limit further infections!
    I was not available when the Tracing contact centre tried to reach me; what should I do?
    As soon as the positive result for COVID-19 is known, you will automatically have access to the online form to notify high-risk contacts. If your mobile phone number is known to the tracing system, you will also receive a text message via the number 8811 when the form is available, inviting you to complete it.
    I do not have a login option offered by the My Health portal and have not been contacted by the Tracing contact centre; what should I do?
    You can contact the Tracing contact centre on +32 (0)2 214 19 19 to initiate contact tracing during the following hours: from 9am to 5:30pm on weekdays and from 10am to 5:30pm at weekends and on public holidays.
    I do not have a computer or smartphone, my result is positive for COVID-19 and I have not been contacted by the Tracing contact centre; what should I do?
    You can contact the Tracing contact centre on +32 (0)2 214 19 19 to initiate contact tracing during the following hours: from 9am to 5:30pm on weekdays and from 10am to 5:30pm at weekends and on public holidays.
    Will the individuals I pass on as high-risk contacts by phone or through the form to complete online be informed that I am COVID-19-positive?
    The contacts at risk that were passed on to us will not be informed of your identity. This information will be treated confidentially. It will not be shared with any inspection service. Your identity and phone number will only be communicated if we need to inform a community (school, nursing home, etc.) that you have been in contact with. We will contact the doctor for that community or, if they are not present, the person in charge of that community. This information will only be used to take preventative measures in the community to avoid the spread of the virus as far as possible. This is ONLY to protect yourself and others. The privacy statement on the processing of personal data can be consulted when completing the form. The privacy statement varies per region.
    For how long will the data entered by phone or via the online form be kept?
    This information is included in the privacy statement on the processing of personal data that can be consulted when completing the form. The privacy statement varies per region.

More information about testing and quarantine can be found on the websites of the competent authorities: