Alex Friedrich, head of the department of medical microbiology and infection prevention at the UMC in Groningen, is delighted with the announcement by public health minister De Jonge that the testing capacity will be expanded considerably. “I think the message has finally arrived that healthcare institutions can accelerate the epidemic. In other countries, we saw that infected healthcare workers could infect about 20 to 30 colleagues, because the spread in healthcare institutions is much faster.”
Another advantage of more tests is that healthcare workers who do not work in hospitals will now also know for sure whether they have the disease or not. This allows healthy staff to return to work immediately, Friedrich emphasizes.
At the moment there is capacity for 4000 tests per day. According to De Jonge, this will be expanded to 17,500 per day in the short term. Ultimately, that should be increased to 29,000 tests per day. Then people outside the healthcare sector can also be tested.