Hague health service limits contact tracing
Staffing shortages have caused problems with coronavirus contact tracing in the Haaglanden region of the Netherlands, which includes The Hague, Zoetermeer, Westland, Delft, and five other municipalities. Residents who test positive for the virus there will have to inform those they have been in contact without assistance from the municipal health service GGD.
Some high-risk contacts will still be called by the GGD, like elderly people, healthcare workers, and people with a weakened immune system. The rest will receive a letter notifying them of their close-contact with an infected person.
The GGD Haaglanden is the third region to face such an issue, with Amsterdam and Rotterdam both cutting off source and contact investigations for several weeks in August. The regions of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague have also been the most affected by new coronavirus infections and Covid-19 hospitalizations since the start of the summer.
A spokesperson for the parent organization of the health services, GGD GHOR, told broadcaster NOS that the situation was “tense” as other regions could also buckle under staffing demands. A national shortage of contact investigators is also possible, the spokesperson said.
From early in the pandemic, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that source and contact tracing was a critical means to keep the coronavirus in check. “We have hired many extra people, but because it is so incredibly busy, it just is not possible anymore to call everyone,” the spokesperson told NOS.