Health board test centres are for people with symptoms, GGD chief says


Overcapacity in regional health board coronavirus test centres cannot be used to administer fast tests to people who simply want more freedom, health board chairman Andre Rouvoet has told Trouw in an interview.

The health boards (GGDs) currently operate some 380 test centres nationwide, with a daily capacity of 175,000, but only around 50,000 tests a day are being carried out.

However, GGD capacity is primarily aimed at combating coronavirus, Rouvoet said. ‘Preventative testing people without symptoms does not make a great contribution to that,’ he said. ‘The GGD is there for public health, that is our remit. If there is an outbreak, we can test according to risk on a massive scale.’

The government has said proof of a negative test or being vaccinated will play a key role in opening museums, theatres and restaurants in the months to come, and is already testing an app which would provide proof based on a QR code.

However, the app system only works using a test result from a GGD test centre, and these, says Rouvoet, are only available to people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

‘The job of carrying out preventative tests without additional reasons lies primarily with the private sector and education, not with the GGD,’ Rouvoet said. ‘That is what has been agreed with the cabinet.’

Fast tests

Work on building new test centres focusing on fast tests began in February and the first are expected to open in April, Trouw said.

Despite his apparent hard line, Rouvoet said he does support the use of fast tests to help society get back to normal.

‘There are ideas about millions of fast tests a month being used to open up society again,’ he said. ‘They can’t start this up quickly enough. Everyone wants freedom again, and testing without symptoms would be useful. I’d say “get on with it then”.’

In Amsterdam, 13 secondary schools are about to begin using fast tests on teachers and the classmates of pupils who have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

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