Amsterdam stops walk-in coronavirus testing as demand soars
Amsterdam’s regional health board has decided to stop offering coronavirus testing without appointments after long queues built up on several days.
Officials say it is no longer responsible to allow such large groups to form.
‘People who may be positive are waiting in long queues for a test, and that is not what you want, given the risk of infection,’ a spokesman told the Parool. ‘It also means people who have made an appointment are having to wait longer, which is making them irritated and angry.’
The queues and the frustrations they generate are also having an impact on people working at the test centres, the spokesman said.
There has been a run on testing since Omicron became the dominant variant of coronavirus in the capital. Last week, more than 24,000 people tested positive for the virus in the region, a rise of 20% on the previous week and the highest ever total.
According to the Volkskrant, health board test centres are currently dealing with 100,000 tests a day, setting a new record of 125,000 tests on Monday.
They believe demand could increase to 200,000 a day by the end of the month, as the Omicron variant takes hold.
On Wednesday, the health boards and test for entry foundation Stichting Open Nederland reached an agreement which will allow commercial testing centres to step in and fill the gap, the paper said.
The SON-backed centres carry out test-for-entry checks, but they have little to do do, given that the hospitality and cultural sectors are currently closed. They will be paid per test carried out for the GGDs, the Volkskrant said.
However, the commercial centres only offer fast lateral flow tests, which are not always as accurate as PCR tests, and some people believe this may prove a problem.
It will be up to the government to decide if the fast tests are an acceptable alternative to the PCR test in confirming the result of self tests, Utrecht GGD director Nicolette Rigter told the paper.
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