People with corona complaints can also be tested soon at a location of Testing for Access and not only at GGD test streets anymore. Chairman of the Board Pier Eringa of the Open Netherlands Foundation tells deCCeit that an agreement with GGD is being finalised.
According to Eringa, the commercial test streets will serve as “overflow” for when GGDs can no longer cope with the influx of people who want to get tested. This scenario is expected by the omikron wave at the end of January. The demand for corona tests may then rise to 200,000 per day, now the demand is about 100,000 a day.
A spokesperson for GGD GHOR Netherlands has another blow to the arm about the deal: “We are in talks with the Open Netherlands Foundation about further scaling up the test capacity. Details about this are not yet known because the talks have not yet been completed.”
In Testing for Access locations, you will probably probably only be able to get an antigen rapid test. These are generally less reliable than the PCR test. They give a result faster than the PCR test, but are less sensitive, says RIVM.
The current GGD test streets remain operational anyway. The intention is that in any case essential personnel will be tested here with the more reliable PCR test. The current capacity at the GGDs is at around 120,000 tests per day and may not be much higher by agreements with laboratories that analyse the cotton sticks after collection.
It is not yet known whether all 26 companies that are now affiliated with the Open Netherlands Foundation can participate. Together, they have 800 locations and can take 600,000 tests a day.
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The test streets of Testing for Access were only used to test people without complaints until the lockdown. This happened to get a corona access certificate for a visit to the hospitality industry, cultural event or sports competition.
It is still unclear how people can get a recovery certificate after a positive result of an antigen rapid test. Such proof is necessary for many trips abroad. Obtaining such a recovery certificate is now only possible after a positive PCR test that has been taken from the GGD.
Need more laboratories
In the background, a major challenge is currently playing for the Ministry of Health to arrange sufficient laboratory capacity to analyze the material on the collected cotton sticks. A tender that the Ministry has set out for so-called PCR analysis only provides for the analysis of 92,000 tests per day, and the Testing Service has been looking for a solution to control more of that analysis capacity for weeks.
So now, at least for the time being, the problem seems solved by the use of antigen rapid testing when Testing for Access. How much the deal with the Open Netherlands Foundation will cost the government is not yet known. According to Eringa, it was agreed that the test option at the commercial providers will remain “in the coming period”.
Kuipers: omikron requires ample capacity
Minister Kuipers of Health says in a response that there is still enough test capacity now, but that it needs to be expanded: “It is obvious that if the numbers of infections are as high as today, the need for capacity is high. And a variant like omikron requires ample test capacity.”
Kuipers also points out in the situation in other countries: “Sometimes it seems that in those countries the number of infections is stable at a very high peak level. But if you contact some of those countries, the answer is: “We are at the limits of our testing capacity, so the number will still be high in reality.”