The GGD Haaglanden has for the most part stopped calling in infected persons. Since Friday, infected residents of nine municipalities, including The Hague, Delft and Rijswijk, have had to inform people themselves with whom they have had close contact.
There is no longer enough staff in the region to fully carry out the contact investigation. The emergency centres that normally support the GGD in the contact investigation also have insufficient staff available.
Nationwide, there is also a risk of a shortage of researchers for the source and contact research. A spokesman for the umbrella organisation GGD GHOR Nederland calls the situation “exciting” and says that in the coming days there may be regions that should follow the example of Haaglanden.
The Hague is the third region where source and contact research is limited by staff shortages combined with a rapid increase in the number of infections. In August this also happened in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. After three weeks, these GGDs were able to fully carry out the contact investigation again.
In recent months, the GGD has trained many new contact researchers. Yet it all turned out to be not enough. The goal of doing 1500 tests a day has still not been achieved. There are now around 1300 a day.
The source and contact research is seen as one of the most important means of keeping the virus under control. By checking the contacts of an infected person immediately, the risk of spreading is reduced.
High risk contacts
In the Haaglanden region, contacts of infected persons now receive a letter instead of a telephone call. The so-called high-risk contacts still call the GGD themselves. These are vulnerable groups such as the elderly or people working in care.
“It is an emergency measure”, says a spokesman of the GGD Haaglanden. “Weve hired a lot of extra people, but because its so busy, its just not possible to call everyone anymore”. It is still unknown how long the measure will last.
Since the beginning of September, the number of infections in the Haaglanden region has almost daily exceeded the signal value of 7 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. This means that there are hundreds of infections per day in the region.