Belgium: Pharmacists to issue certificate for positive Covid-19 test that school children can use as “sick note”

Belgium: Pharmacists can issue a certificate for a positive quick Covid-19 test that schoolchildren can use as a “sick note” as of this Friday. It is still debatable whether a certificate of this kind may also be used to excuse absence from work.

Since last summer, more than 2,500 pharmacists in all of Belgium have been allowed to do rapid antigen testing (RAT), but they may now also issue certificates of absence for kids as young as six. Previously, only doctors of medicine (GPs) could perform this.

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The Federal Public Service (FPS) for Health stated in a news release on Friday that “not all areas require a certificate from the pharmacist for the absence of a kid with Covid from school.” For instance, in Flanders, schools are permitted to accept a positive Covid-19 test result or a note from the child’s parent(s) in addition to a doctor’s note certifying the absence.

It is advised first to utilise the self-assessment application, which will generate a test code that users may then use to schedule an appointment at a pharmacy nearby to have a (free) fast test performed by a pharmacist if they have symptoms.

The unions and employers’ organisations are currently debating whether these pharmaceutical certificates will also be acceptable for leave of absence. However, each individual employer is, of course, free to accept such a certificate.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 must remain in isolation for at least seven days following the onset of their symptoms. People are advised to exercise caution for three more days after the week is through and restrict their interaction to those who are absolutely required.

The health authorities stated that “this modification of the testing strategy puts more emphasis on individual responsibility to stop the spread of the virus and not overburden the healthcare system,” highlighting the significance of getting the autumn Covid-19 booster dose (particularly for those over-50s or those with a weakened immunity), ventilation, the fundamentals of good hygiene, and adapting your behaviour as necessary.

Importantly, users should still download and submit the European Covid-19 test certificate if they need verification of a negative test, such as for travel. In this situation, the pharmacist’s certification is insufficient.

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