GGD health centres have been preparing separate facilities to test for the monkeypox virus in big cities where infections are spreading, BNR reports.
At some locations, testing will take place in former coronavirus testing sites. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven already have separate spaces with designated waiting rooms.
The centres are being set up in response to an RIVM recommendation issued at the end of May, which called for measures to minimise contagion, including face masks for staff.
Most monkeypox cases in the Netherlands have been the result of skin-on-skin contact but that does not mean preventative measures are superfluous, microbiologist at the Canisius hospital in Nijmegen Bert Mulder told the radio station.
Testing for monkeypox is slightly more complicated because of privacy considerations, the station reported. People have to strip to check for the tell tale blistering and rooms have to be thoroughly disinfected before the next person can be tested.
The number of infections – some 350 at the moment and mostly in Amsterdam – is rising quickly and testing is a good way of gauging the spread, RIVM national infectious diseases coordinator Tjalling Leenstra said. ‘The way to prevent spread is to recognise it quickly and advise patients to isolate and get vaccinated.’
A three week quarantine period is no longer needed because it is seen as ‘over the top’ and may prevent people from reporting the infection, the RIVM said in a recommendation to the government. Instead people should be asked to refrain from intimate contact.
People who think they have the virus, which is characterised by flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle ache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, tiredness and blisters, should contact their GPs who must then inform the GGDs.
The vaccine itself is a newer version of the old smallpox virus vaccine. That vaccine does not protect against monkey pox, the RIVM warned.
Meanwhile health minister Ernst Kuipers has told GGDs to gear up for a possible coronavirus vaccination round in the autumn, initially focused on people who are vulnerable.
An NHS study published in May has suggested that a fourth booster offers a strong immunity boost for the most vulnerable.
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