In June, the government announced that travellers from the Netherlands could be tested for free before going on holiday. The offer should’ve lasted all of July and August — but that won’t be the case reports RTL Nieuws.
Yesterday, the director of Lead Healthcare (who provides the coronavirus tests in cooperation with the GGDs) announced that they will stop the free testing scheme.
Testing temporarily stopped
Lead Healthcare has 100 testing locations throughout the Netherlands where travellers were tested for free. The promise to travellers was that they’d have their results within 24 hours of testing — plenty of time before they’d need to show the result in the airport. However, due to being “extremely busy,” that promise couldn’t be kept. Many travellers have now had to cancel vacation plans last minute.
Therefore, Lead Healthcare has decided to temporarily stop the free testing scheme “until further notice.” People who already have an appointment will still be tested but no new appointments can be made.
Not prepared for the increase in infections
Last weekend, there was an “explosive growth” in the number of people who came in for testing. On an average weekend the main laboratory processes 2000 tests but last weekend this number skyrocketed to 15,000. A spokesperson for the lab says that they are simply not equipped to handle that amount of tests.
So where did it go wrong?
According to the spokesperson, coronavirus outbreaks across the country have overwhelmed the testing facilities. They were ready to tests happy holiday goers, but not on top of the massive increase in testing required by heightened infection rates.
Working on a solution
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport say they are working together with the lab to fix the problem so they can resume testing travellers as soon as possible. Amongst others, they’re looking into transferring some of the tests to another lab.
Travellers stranded at Schiphol
Currently, thousands of people are still waiting for their test results, long after the 24 hours have passed. Lead Healthcare has already spoken to hundreds of people worriedly calling from the airport, asking about their results.
Families have been stranded at Schiphol airport thanks to the delay in test results. Many have been anxiously waiting for their results while they see the plane boarding.
Double check which test you need before travelling
The director of Lead Healthcare urges travellers to make sure whether they need a PCR test or just an antigen test to enter their destination country. He says many European countries accept antigen tests. These can be done without a lab (and results are back in 30 minutes!). So if you’re planning on travelling, double-check the entry requirements for your destination and, if possible, get an antigen test instead of a PCR test.
Do you have any experience with the free travel test scheme? Tell us in the comments below!
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