More large companies buying commercial Covid-19 tests
More and more large companies are turning to commercial coronavirus tests because they cannot afford to have employees at home for days at a time, waiting for test results from health service GGD. Ahold, ASML, DAF, and Hema all concluded contracts with commercial testers in recent weeks. Industry organizations BouwendNederland and TechiekNederland are also arranging commercial tests for their members, NRC reports after speaking to the companies and associations involved.
On October 4, those who went to the GGD to get tested for the coronavirus waited an average of 89 hours for their results, according to the newspaper. That dropped to 56 hours on average last week, which is still much higher than the 24 to 36 hours commercial parties take to deliver PCR test results.
HEMA uses commercial tests "on a limited scales" for crucial employees and employees who come into frequent contact with others, the department store said to NRC. HEMA stressed that its use of commercial testers is not a criticism on the GGD. "We are convinced that they are doing what they can. But in practice, it can sometimes take 48 hours before you can go, and then another 48 hours until you get the results. So there is a chance that you will miss an employee for four days. That is very expensive."
Ahold, parent company of Albert Heijn and Etos, told the newspaper that it is only using commercial tests when the waiting times at the GGD are longer than 24 hours.
Kruidvat also said that its commercial testing capacity is used as a supplement. "The main stream of our people still goes to the GGD," a spokesperson said to the newspaper. But if the waiting times are too long at the GGD, Kruidvat sends its workers to a commercial tester. "The sooner you know for sure, the better. This applies to the employee who is concerned about his health, but also to the branch manager who tries to keep a team up and running."
About a third of companies in the industry is already using or considering commercial testers, sector organization FME said to NRC based on a survey it did among its 2,200 members, which covers 226 thousand people. Almost half of the companies said that they experience "unnecessary absenteeism" because employees are stuck at home waiting for test results.
Earlier this week, Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told parliament that he wants to regulate private testing initiatives by the business community. He wants to set requirements for taking test samples, medical supervision on the testing process, and reporting positive tests to the GGD. When these requirements will be implemented is not yet clear.