Travellers no longer tested for free: Dutch lab is overwhelmed

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.

READ MORE | Where can I holiday? Current travel advice from the Netherlands

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.

Many unhappy travellers have taken to Twitter: “Had a PCR test taken by #leadhealthcare yesterday, 30 hours later and still no result. From the many other tweets, I see that I’m not the only one 😅”

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!

Feature Image: elenathewise/Depositphotots

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

5 COMMENTS

  1. We too sufferered under the inadequacies of Lead Healthcare!!! We tested on 7th July, 17.00 for our international flight on the 9th, through out the day of 8th we waited for our test results. No message from Lead Healthcare or response to our calls on their contact number. Even emails went unanswered.
    Hoping that the results would come through, we reached the airport on 9th morning at 5 am. Even at 06.30 there was no email from them.

    The amount of stress and trauma is undescribable!!!
    Later at 11.30 we received an email saying there was an error with the test n we will have to make another appointment if we want our Pcr tests!!! 😡😡🤬🤬

    Simply shocking attitude by the company: LEAD HEALTHCARE!

  2. I had my test done the 13th at 2:15 pm. My flight was on the 15th afternoon , so I had plenty of time to receive the results.
    This morning which is the day of my flight I tried to reach Lead Healthcare, but it was reachable at all. I sent their an email for which the responded that they don’t know when the results are out, and that they claim no responsibility as this is a free government service. But honestly this government service is there to serve a purpose and if it doesn’t then it’s supposedly the government that has to be responsible for the consequences of its failure to provide the purpose needed.
    However, hoping it will arrive before 48 hours at the latest , I headed to the airport. Now I am at the airport , heartbroken , while witnessing my flight leave without me, and thinking I have to rebook a new ticket , and do another PCR test to be able to travel , and run the risk I can’t spend the Muslim feast with my family in Egypt, very sad day !

  3. My PCR test for America was offered through Spoedtest. The results came back within 24 hours, well within the time frame of 36 hours they had promised.

  4. We have been tested via Lead Healthcare, we are a family of 6 persons, it all worked perfectly. Two of us travelled earlier, and their results arrived after 34 hours since it was quite busy at that time, and we were told in advance that the results might take more than 24 hours. The results of the rest of us, 4, arrived even before 24 hours. We were concerned when we read the reviews of other people on the internet and the stories of delay, but for us it worked fine. Be careful to go tested as early as possible before your flight. For us it required 72 hours before the flight, we went tested before 70 hours so we leave enough time to get the results. Good luck.

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