Since Sunday 8 January 2023, China is scaling back most COVID-19 measures and travel restrictions. This means there may be an increase in international travellers from China.
At present, the risk to Belgium is estimated to be small and there are no indications that a new variant is developing. Thanks to vaccination, we already have a good degree of protection in Belgium. In addition, the currently applicable precautions against corona and other respiratory infections are best followed up (see illustration above).
However, it is important that we monitor this closely and tighten our control.
Belgium is taking a number of measures to this end and is aligning itself as much as possible with the recommendations of the IPCR (Integrated Political Crisis Response) and those of the Belgian Risk Management Group (FPS Public Health).
- Travellers departing from China to Belgium on a direct flight should present a negative COVID-19 test (RAT or PCR) upon departure, taken no more than 48 hours prior to departure.
- The test results of passengers coming from China may be checked upon their arival at Brussels Airport.
- Currently, waste water from flights from China to Brussels is also regularly analyzed to detect any new variants of the corona virus. So far, the viral load in these samples has been moderately positive, therefore this gene typing was not yet possible. This shows that the tests taken before departure do not offer a 100% guarantee (no test does), or that the viral load of some travelers who tested negative before departure increased during the flight.
- Upon arrival in Brussels Airport, travelers can have themselves tested, on a voluntary basis.
- Belgium also applies genomic sequencing to positive tests of symptomatic persons (> 6 years) who have been in China in the past 7 days and consult a physician or pharmacist.
- Non-essential travel to China is not recommended. People with immune deficiency problems are also advised not to travel to China.
- People who do travel to China are advised to get up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Wearing a FFP2 mask throughout the trip and stay is strongly recommended.
These measures will be evaluated and may be scaled up if the situation requires it.