Covid outbreaks likely where coronavirus tests are hard to get: Epidemiologist
Areas in the Netherlands where people live far away from coronavirus testing locations are likely to see outbreaks of the virus, as well as the accompanying increase in hospitalizations, said virologists and epidemiologists to BNR. Testing capacity needs to be increased in these areas, they said.
Research by Statistics Netherlands showed that willingness to get tested for the coronavirus decreased the further people had to travel to do so. This could lead to a revival of the virus in areas where tests are hard to come by, epidemiologist Arnold Bosman said to the broadcaster. "In regions where there are few test locations, the coronavirus will circulate for much longer." People wait longer before getting tested, which means they also unknowingly spread the virus among their contacts for longer.
At the moment, free Covid-19 testing is mainly facilitated by municipal health service GGD. But according to Bosman, it's worth looking into doing this differently "For example, if you let pharmacies and general practitioners administer rapid tests for free, you can literally have a test location on every street corner."
Coronavirus outbreaks could lead to new restrictions having to be implemented, with all the economic consequences thereof. Creating more testing locations will cost money, but new lockdowns may be more expensive economically speaking, Jochen Mierau, Professor of Public Health Economics and Scientific Director at the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, pointed out.
UMCG virologist Bert Niesters called for more testing options, especially in the autumn. "The infections are expected to increase again in the autumn. The government always says: 'if you have symptoms, get yourself tested'. Then you must also offer everyone an easy option to get tested, which is not available for everyone at the moment."
A spokesperson for umbrella organization GGD GHOR Nederland told BNR that there are currently no plans to expand testing options. "This is because we have national coverage with the current locations, which is mainly based on short travel time," the spokesperson said.