Dutch town holds mass COVID-19 testing amid new variant fears
The makeshift testing center in Bergschenhoek, near the port city of Rotterdam, was set up after a cluster of
COVID-19 cases linked to an elementary school turned up 30 cases of the new variant that is sweeping through
Britain and Ireland, putting hospitals in those countries under severe strain.
On Tuesday night, as the Dutch government extended its current lockdown by three more weeks, Health Minister
Hugo de Jonge said that only 2 per cent to 5 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands are now the new
variant. But he added that "the expectation is that it will, just as in England, get the upper hand".
"The only question is how long that will take," De Jonge added. “And anybody who lets the dramatic images and
stories from London sink in knows it can get much, much worse very quickly and we have to do whatever it takes
to prevent that.”
Ernst Kuipers, head of a national organisation that distributes patients among hospitals, warned lawmakers on
Wednesday of the gravity of the threat.
“If you get a transmission that goes as fast as in England, then there is no care system, not in Germany,
not in England and not in the Netherlands either, that can cope," he said.
Bergschenhoek residents played their part as a steady stream of people — from elderly men and women to young
families with babies — went to get tested. The municipality of Lansingerland, which includes the town and other
nearby villages, wants to test all of its 62,000 residents aged over two years in coming days.
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