The GGD Haaglanden has largely stopped calling contacts of infected people. Infected residents of nine municipalities, including The Hague, Delft and Rijswijk, have had to inform the people with whom they have had close contact themselves since Friday.
There is no longer enough personnel in the region to fully conduct the contact investigation. The emergency centers that normally support the GGD in the contact investigation also have insufficient staff available.
There is also a threat of a national shortage of researchers for source and contact research. A spokesperson for umbrella organization GGD GHOR Netherlands calls the situation “exciting” and says that in the coming days there may be regions that should follow the example of Haaglanden.
The Hague is the third region where source and contact research is limited due to staff shortages in combination with a rapid increase in the number of infections. This happened in August also in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. After three weeks, the GGDs were able to complete the contact investigation again.
The GGD has trained many new contact researchers in recent months. Yet it all turns out not to be enough. The goal of conducting 1,500 examinations per day has still not been achieved. There are now around 1,300 a day.
Source and contact research is seen as one of the most important means of controlling the virus. By immediately checking the contacts of an infected person, the risk of spread is reduced.
High risk contacts
In the Haaglanden region, contacts of infected people now receive a letter instead of a phone call. The so-called ‘high-risk contacts’ are still called by the GGD itself. This concerns vulnerable groups such as the elderly or people who work in healthcare.
“It is an emergency measure,” says a spokesperson for the GGD Haaglanden. “We have hired a lot of extra people, but because it is so incredibly busy, it just isn’t possible to call everyone anymore”. It is still unknown how long the measure will take.
Since the beginning of September, the number of infections in the Haaglanden region has been above the signal value of 7 infections per 100,000 inhabitants almost every day. This means that there are hundreds of infections per day in the region.