Covid-19 test shortage to last a time yet, Health Minister says
For the time being, it will remain difficult to get an appointment in the Netherlands to be tested for the coronavirus. "These weeks will be tight," Minister Hugo de Jonge said to NOS before the Council of Ministers on Friday. According to him, the shortage lies with the laboratory capacity to analyze tests. He signed contracts with German labs late last month and now also with a Belgian one, to help fix this, De Jonge said.
Currently, the GGD health services can test around 30 thousand people per day for Covid-19. De Jonge expects that this can increase to 50 thousand by end September, and hopefully to 70 thousand by end October.
The current 30 thousand tests per day are not nearly enough to meet demand. On Thursday, only four out of the around 100 test locations in the country still had plenty of appointments open.
Teachers and healthcare workers have been calling to get priority in testing for some time. The government agrees that kids not being able to go to school because their teacher is waiting for their Covid-19 test results, has too big a social consequence, as it also means their parents can't go to work, according to NOS
De Jonge is currently discussing how to arrange this with the GGDs. "We are working hard on it, but the puzzle has not yet been completed," he said. "It is complex, because priority for one is delay for the other."
De Jonge warned against turning to commercial parties, instead of waiting for a GGD appointment. According to him, commercial parties may use an unreliable rapid test. And if they use a normal, reliable test "then that is lab capacity that the GGD could use."
Late last month, non-medical labs said that they have been offering to help with lab capacity for months.