The summer holidays are in full swing, and many thousands of compatriots are moving abroad. However, the fact that you have to present a negative PCR test in various countries if you are not yet fully vaccinated and that it is mandatory to be tested for COVID-19 when you return from a red zone is a cold shower for many Flemish people. according to a Domus Medica survey at 56 test and triage centers in Flanders.
More than 70 percent of testing and triage centers experience increased patient aggression toward staff because of travel testing. This mainly concerns verbal aggression towards staff, both in the centers on site and by telephone. 16 percent of centers also report instances of physical assault. In some centers (13 percent) the police had even had to intervene to calm the mood.
According to the GPs’ association, many of the problems are due to insufficient preparation on the part of travelers. Those who have not yet been vaccinated are entitled to two free travel tests today. Travelers have to activate their code online before making an appointment in a test center, but that’s where the shoe pinches. Many travelers come to the test center without a code for a free test or they show up without an appointment. That is the main reason for aggression.
There are also other reasons for the increased aggression: for example, when the free code has expired, making the test pay. Another frustration with travelers is that sometimes the results don’t come fast enough, not before departure. Another point that leads to aggression is when the patient has to be quarantined but does not agree.
“Aggression towards the care providers and the staff of the test centers is unacceptable and we expect the judiciary to tackle any form of aggression firmly,” said Roel Van Giel, chairman of Domus Medica.
‘Be better prepared’
The employees of the test centers have had enough. “We understand that many people look forward to a vacation and that everyone yearns for a life without COVID-19. However, we are not here to impede or complicate travel, as many people claim, but to fight corona,” said an employee of a test and triage center.
“We see a lot of travelers who no longer even bother to look up information themselves,” says another test center. “They expect us to provide a travel test with extensive travel advice. We are still a test center, not a travel agency!”
Domus Medica calls on travelers to better prepare for a holiday abroad. “Unfortunately, travel this year is still different than we are used to, so it is necessary to consult the travel advice on the government website ( https://diplomatie.belgium.be/nl)”, says Van Giel.
“In addition, travelers must request a code before departure via www.mijngezondheid.be for a (free) test. By scheduling an appointment at a test center in good time, they do not have to worry about the waiting time for their test result.”
In addition, Domus Medica encourages the travel sector and the government to keep repeating the information campaigns.