Thursday 18 August 2022

Self-testing to play a greater role: OMT advice

Positive and Negative coronavirus tests. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Outbreak Management Team has suggested giving more priority to self-testing in future, while slowly winding down public health institute testing capacity.

In documentation supporting its latest advice to the Dutch government, the OMT says that ‘individual responsibility’ will play a greater role, although the country should ‘not reduce the regional health board (GGD) testing infrastructure too quickly.’

Short-term, it advises, GGD tests and tracing should still be publicly available for all but low risk groups should be able to test themselves (and confirm a positive coronavirus diagnosis with a government test) – the current situation.

However, in the medium term, public capacity should be used to help identify and trace outbreaks, particularly in institutions, and still offered to people who are vulnerable or come into contact with those who are vulnerable. In this ‘phase’, everyone else will not be asked to confirm a positive self-test with a public one.

Then, in the long term, self-tests will play an even greater role for most people although there will still be ‘GGD test streets’ and the public health institute’s role will be to monitor larger outbreaks.

Finally, the advisory body sketches a ‘post-pandemic’ period where only health professionals will need to test individuals, in order to offer them specific care, and nobody will be asked to self-test anymore.

‘The OMT suggests going to phase two the moment that we reach the decreasing leg of the omicron peak,’ according to the advice.

On Tuesday evening, health minister Ernst Kuipers said the country was over the omicron peak, and hospital admissions were relatively stable, so the most restrictive measures to contain the pandemic will disappear in the next fortnight.

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