Dutch health service buckling under Covid testing pressure
Dutch munipal health service GGD said it was growing more and more difficult for people in the Netherlands to get tested for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus within two days of contacting the organization. The announcement came just hours after Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he closed a deal with a German organization to provide between 2 and 5 thousand additional coronavirus tests every day.
Last week, the GGDs conducted nearly 162 thousand tests for the novel coronavirus, for an average of a bit over 23 thousand per day. De Jonge has repeatedly told Parliament and the public that the country could carry out 29 thousand tests daily. On Thursday, the Health Ministry said capacity could be ramped up to 44 thousand tests per day if needed.
"This morning at 10 a.m., people could no longer visit 67 of the 105 test locations within 48 hours," a spokesperson for the GGD told broadcaster NOS. The umbrella organization had warned of the possibility and increased workload before, with the Amsterdam branch of the service at one point last month saying it was unable to handle the volume of source-and-contact tracing investigations.
Many people are getting tested even if they have no relevant health symptoms to indicate an infection, the GGD said. This despite a call from the Cabinet to only get tested for the coronavirus infection when complaints surface.
The extra testing has pushed many branches beyond their capabilities. "As a result, we cannot test people who have real complaints. Teachers and healthcare personnel now sometimes have to wait days," the spokesperson said to NOS.