On 22 March, the Belgian government set up a COVID-19 taskforce to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The government coalition that includes both ALDE members in Belgium – Mouvement Réformateur and Open Vld – allocated the leadership of this taskforce to Minister Philippe De Backer (Open Vld).
In this role, Minister De Backer will oversee the supply of protective masks and coronavirus tests, among others. One of the key actions of the taskforce will be increasing the number of people who are tested for the virus, as also recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Commenting on this, Minister De Backer said:
“Currently we’re running 3.000 tests daily, but we urgently need to test more. Only in this way can we see whether the curve of contaminated cases is really flattening. We plan to reach 10.000 tests this week and we hope to keep increasing this number.”
In his search for extra labs to analyse the tests, Minister De Backer is in frequent communication with universities as well as biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He has also changed the regulation for breweries and distilleries so that they can produce hand sanitizers. This way, action is taken to prevent any shortage of disinfection products in the healthcare sector.