MPs want to reopen Covid test center at Schiphol
D66 parliamentarians Jan Paternotte and Antje Diertens want the coronavirus test center at Schiphol airport to be reopened, calling the testing of incoming travelers a "necessary part of controlling the virus", they said to AT5.
The coalition party MPs posed questions about this to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. "Schiphol is the busiest airport in Europe this month. Number of corona tests at Schiphol this month: 0. How can the test center still be closed?" Paternotte said on Twitter.
The Schiphol test center at Schiphol opened on August 13. From that date, travelers arriving from Covid-19 hotspots were asked to have themselves tested, even if they did not have symptoms. They were also asked to quarantine for two weeks. The center was closed again on September 12, due to capacity problems.
In response to previous questions from the two MPs on this subject, De Jonge said that no random checks are being done to make sure that airline passengers are sticking to the quarantine rules. The Ministry is currently investigating options on this point. "However, there are various legal obstacles with regard to privacy legislation that complicate registration and follow-up calls. We are now also exploring a digital system for registration."
De Jonge said that "testing persons without symptoms is not considered a priority" by the Outbreak Management Team. That combined with the increased pressure on testing capacity as Covid-19 infections started to rise rapidly last month, resulted in him deciding "to temporarily stop testing people without symptoms, including travelers at Schiphol."
De Jonge added that he could have been more clear about the fact that the Schiphol test location was "part of an experiment on the value of testing people without symptoms", and not a measure in and of itself.
Last week health service GGD said in a letter to parliament that they don't consider a Covid-19 testing station at Schiphol to be worth it. According to the health service, the "find rate" - the percentage positive tests - at Schiphol was about half as low as the find rate in other test centers. "With a find rate that is almost half lower than in the other test centers in the Netherlands, it can be concluded that the testing of travelers at Schiphol is less efficient in detecting positive people than testing people with symptoms," the health service said. That capacity can better be used elsewhere.
Paternotte pointed out on Twitter that "Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and many other countries" are testing travelers coming from hotspots at their airports.
According to De Jonge, Germany discontinued the free coronavirus tests at its airports on September 15 "because too much laboratory capacity was used".
Testing at Frankfurt Airport is not mandatory but it is available for anyone arriving from a risk area within 10 days of landing in Germany, according to the airport’s website.