Mass testing starts in Bible belt village and a typical Dutch town


Regional health board officials have begun a mass testing programme in the Bible belt local authority area of Bunschoten in Utrecht province, in an effort to find out why it has such a high rate of coronavirus infection.

Bible belt towns dominate the list of places with the most infections per head of the population, and health experts suspect this may be because strict Protestant families tend to be larger.

Everyone of the age of six is being offered a test, whether or not they have symptoms. Bunschoten, which has four population centres, has around 21,000 residents.

Local mayor Melis van de Groep told Radio 1 that families in Bunschoten are used to meeting each other on a weekly basis. ‘It has apparently been difficult to stop doing that,’ he said. ‘And that has taken its toll.’

In December, the town had multiple funerals a day on occasion, but now the infection rate has gone down, he said.

There has been widespread criticism of the government’s decision not to close churches, mosques and synagogues in the latest lockdown.

Mass testing is also being carried out in Dronten, in Flevoland province.

Dronten, with a population of 40,000 has been singled out for the project because it is an average town and the population has show an high willingness to be tested, local paper De Stentor said.

Centres shut

Meanwhile, a number of coronavirus test centres remain closed on Monday because of the wintry weather.

Locations in Haarlem, Alphen aan den Rijn and Gorinchem are among those which have kept their doors closed, because the locations are not easy to access.

The Hollands Noorden health board has also said that its locations in Den Helder, Bovenkarspel and Opmeer will be closed all week.

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