The Dutch test system for the coronavirus is not yet ready for a possible second wave. The testing capacity must be further increased, the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) notes after research in all 25 GGD regions. The inspectorate calls the expansion that is still necessary an ‘enormous task’ for the GGDs and laboratories involved.
The survey was conducted in July and August. In that last month, the chain of registration, collection, laboratory analysis and source and contact research was ‘in order’, the inspectorate concludes. At that time, however, the number of infections was lower than now.
The GGDs and laboratories can not solve the bottlenecks on their own, according to the inspection, which warns that the system is ‘in trouble’ if people who have no complaints are also tested. In addition, the IGJ finds it problematic for source and contact investigations if people have maintained many close contacts, all of which the GGD has to call if someone has become infected. Public cooperation is therefore desperately needed.
The government foresees a significant increase in the demand for tests in the coming months. After all, symptoms of a corona infection are similar to those of a common cold. Last week, 195,545 people got tested, an average of almost 28,000 a day. The inspection report expects that in November almost double the number will be required: 55,000 tests per day. In December this will increase further to 70,000 and in February 2021 a daily number of 85,000 is expected.
Previously made nationwide calculations on the increase in demand for testing and source and contact research “do not correspond to reality,” writes the inspectorate. “On the one hand, GGDs had too much capacity in the beginning and, on the other hand, some GGDs and subsequently peaks were unable to cope with staff shortages.”
The IGJ also surveyed the laboratories that analyze the tests. They are concerned and identify bottlenecks “in all areas”, from the availability of good staff to materials, equipment and suitable spaces. They also want to prevent their regular work from coming to a halt again, as happened at the start of the corona outbreak.
Incidentally, the inspectorate has “great appreciation for the way in which the GGDs have set up the testing and the source and contact investigation in a short period of time.” For example, they have invested a lot in training and onboarding employees who, for example, man the test streets. According to the IGJ, it would be good if more attention was paid to the “physical strain and emotional support of employees.”
View all the corona news here Wednesday September 16.
View the number of infections per municipality in the past two weeks here.