Dutch Covid testing to expand to include some without symptoms
Coronavirus testing in the Netherlands will soon expand to also include some groups with no symptoms - close contacts of infected people, incoming travelers from Covid-19 hot spots, and people notified that they were in contact with a Covid-19 patient through the CoronaMelder app, Sjaak de Gouw, director of municipal health service GGD, said to newspaper AD.
Recent advice from the Outbreak Management Team showed that testing capacity is now sufficient to start testing people without symptoms, to investigate in which cases this will be useful. As new Covid-19 infections fall, more testing capacity is freed up. And the introduction of rapid tests meant that the number of PCR tests done at GGD test centers decreased significantly in the past two weeks, from 321 thousand to 241 thousand.
By also testing people with no symptoms the GGD and OMT want to see if outbreaks can be contained faster. There is evidence that people can be contagious a few days before they develop coronavirus symptoms.
"In the event of a local outbreak at an asylum center, nursing home or slaughterhouse, we send a mobile test bust. There we cant test people with and without symptoms. The bus uses the classic PCR test," De Gouw said. Rapid tests are not as accurate so early in an infection. "In this way we prevent people who later develop symptoms from spreading the virus without them realizing it."
The GGDs wanted to start asymptomatic testing in the summer, but there was insufficient testing capacity. This coming spring, the GGD expects to be able to do 200 thousand tests per day - three times the current capacity.