NL – Health service GGD was caught a bit off guard by the sudden increase in coronavirus infections, Sjaak de Gouw of the health service said to Trouw. “We had anticipated that there would be an increase in the number of infections as of July 1, after measures were relaxed. But we hadn’t taken into account that there would be almost a hundred clusters of infected persons so quickly,” he said to the newspaper.
In June, an average of 8 thousand people per day called the GGD hotline to book a coronavirus test. This past Monday, the call center received 29 thousand calls. In some areas people have to wait days before they can get tested, according tot he newspaper.
The GGDs are now working on expanding test locations as quickly as possible, De Gouw said. “Does an extra tent fit in to quickly double the capacity of the test line? Can we test at laboratories? And we are extending the opening hours of the GGD test streets so that hopefully everyone can get tested within 24 hours.” According to him, the speed at which these expansions can happen differs between regions.
“That there are suddenly so many tests surprised and worries us,” De Gouw said “All GGDs are now saying: we are getting more test requests and have to carry out more source and contact investigations. The opportunity to help each other disappears like snow in the sun.”
De Gouw can’t say whether the GGDs could have been better prepared for this sudden increase in tests. According to him, it’s a balancing act. “The question is: what do you prepare for? In June, we were able to handle 24 thousand tests a day and our people sat twiddling their thumbs from noon to 5:00 p.m., or someone would receive one phone call while working on a Sunday. Then you schedule people and adjust the capacity. Now we are rapidly scaling up,” he said. “We are in a split: what buffer do you keep available, and how quickly can these people be deployed, versus how do you ensure that people do not sit around for weeks and therefore drop out?”