Priority to corona-virusst: telephones GGD red-hot, MBO disappointed

The telephone is ringing red hot today at the Municipal Health Service (GGD), following yesterdays announcement by Minister De Jonge that healthcare and education staff will be given priority for corona testing.

We received 30% more calls this morning than usual on a Saturday, says GGD director Sjaak de Gouw. Many people said that they work in education and asked if they could be tested today

The Minister said yesterday evening that priority cannot be given straight away. We are now looking at how we are going to organise it together with the industry organisations, says de Gouw. The first people will be able to be tested as a matter of priority at the end of next week

72 hours of waiting time

In addition, the GGD director emphasises that it is not necessary to call immediately at 8.00 am. We have 1400 employees in our call centre. So if 30,000 people call directly in the morning, at least 28,000 will be on hold. And experience has shown that people who call later in the day can usually be tested on the same day as those who call in the morning

The waiting time between such a telephone call and the coronavirus test has now risen to at least 72 hours.

Great responsibility

The Minister stressed that priority applies to primary and secondary school teachers who cannot be replaced. All children are obliged to attend school, wrote De Jonge in the letter to the Chamber. Sending classes home has consequences for the development of the pupils and their parents cannot go to work

The VO Council, the umbrella organisation of secondary schools, welcomes the Ministers decision. However, Chairman Paul Rosenmöller also calls it a great responsibility for schools. There is only limited testing capacity, so I call on schools to be critical about who they let test them as a matter of priority

It will be up to the school leader to decide who is eligible and who is not. Priority teachers can report to the GGD with a written statement from the headmaster in their pocket.

MBO Council disappointed

The MBO Council is disappointed that lecturers in MBOs are not included. We have a social duty to train our students well, but practical education is essential for this, says Arwin Nimis, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Drenthe College. Those hours are of great value and cant be lost because a teacher has colds

He has therefore chosen to purchase testing capacity from a commercial laboratory. These tests cost 80 euros each. Replacing a sick teacher costs us 250 to 300 euros. And we have the results within 24 hours. So this saves us time and money.

Minister de Jonge asks precisely not to use this kind of commercial testing, so that the GGDs can use this extra capacity. We have looked into that, says Nimis. But our tests are carried out in Germany, so they dont cost any Dutch capacity

Childcare is considering closure

Childcare workers also feel left out in the cold by the cabinet. Childrens day-care centres are struggling to get the grids round and foresee that they will have to close the doors if there is no change in the long waiting times.

According to Health Minister De Jonge, the voluntary nature of childcare, on the one hand, and compulsory education, on the other, have been decisive factors in the choice.

Maureen Posthumus is the director of 80 childcare locations in Haarlem. She finds the decision incomprehensible. Three months ago we were complimented on the fact that thanks to the childcare facilities, the crucial professions were able to remain at work A survey she conducted among parents showed that the majority of her clients worked in education or care. Where are these people going to take their children if we are forced to close down?

Despite the criticism, the Ministry of Health has stuck to the choice made. If you give priority, there will always be groups that think that they should be included, says a spokesperson. And if we start to do that, there will no longer be any priority