Health boards urge people not to call corona test hotline on Monday mornings

Testing at a drive through centre. Photo:
Testing at a drive through centre. Photo:

People with coronavirus symptoms have been asked not to call the government’s testing hotline on Monday mornings to avoid overburdening the system.

The national network of community health services (GGDs) said its lines remained open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, but advised people to ‘avoid the Monday morning rush’ and call later in the day.

The Dutch testing infrastructure is operating close to capacity following a recent surge in cases, leading to delays in processing test results. Last Thursday the GGDs admitted it was almost impossible to book a coronavirus test within 48 hours at the 100 testing stations.

On Saturday the drop-in testing centre at Schiphol airport for travellers arriving from countries on the Dutch government’s ‘red’ and ‘orange’ lists, meaning they had high numbers of coronavirus cases, was closed to free up capacity elsewhere.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has acknowledged that the next few weeks will be ‘very tight’, but pledged that daily capacity will be raised from 30,000 to 50,000 by the end of September, with a target of 70,000 at the end of October.

‘We are working hard but the puzzle has not been solved,’ he said.

De Jonge has come under pressure to give priority to people working in critical professions such as healthcare and teaching to minimise the disruption caused by testing. Anyone who takes a test is required to self-isolate until they receive the result.

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