Albert Bos, political reporter for the NOS, points out that yesterday during the press conference of the cabinet it was said that everything was in order. “If a day later it turns out that two GGDs say they can’t handle it, then you really have something to explain.”
“The House of Representatives was also really surprised at this report today. Especially the opposition parties, who have been insisting for months on enough staff at the GGDs to do that source and contact investigation. This will be an important point in the parliamentary debate next week.”
Unexpectedly rapid rise
According to De Jonge, the scaling down of the contact investigation in Amsterdam and Rotterdam is the result of a rapid increase in the number of infections. “That has gone faster than expected in the past two weeks.” He also says that these people have more contacts than expected. “Sometimes forty, fifty or seventy contacts. Then it takes an unbelievably long time.”
In order to continue to carry out the source and contact research, De Jonge wants the national GGD to implement the upscaling plan that is already in place more quickly. He acknowledges that the current situation is not ideal. “This is not what you want. It would have been okay, but the spread of the virus and the number of contacts to be contacted is greater than expected,” said the minister.
Due to the staff shortage in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the GGDs there are forced to adjust their source and contact investigations. Only in risk groups such as the elderly and the chronically ill are the examinations done entirely by GGD staff. In other cases, lists are still drawn up with people who have had contact with infected people, but those infected people must then call their contacts themselves.
“It is an emergency measure,” says director Sjaak de Gouwe of GGD GHOR Netherlands. “We give people a letter, but having the conversation and making them understand the seriousness of the situation is actually something we prefer to do ourselves.”
This procedure is only followed if it is justified and is temporary, says De Jonge. He hopes that the GGDs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam will be able to complete all source and contact investigations themselves within two weeks. The national pool of researchers from which the GGDs can draw must then be expanded from 550 to 1100 FTEs. In the period since then, the pool must have increased by another 1,100 FTEs.
According to De Jonge, the increase in the number of infections is due to non-compliance with the corona measures. “We will have to rediscover the discipline to adhere to the ground rules and thus together make it possible for the GGD to continue to do their important work well,” his ministry wrote in a press release.