April 8, 2020 / 5:47 PM / 2 months ago

Dutch use ice rink for drive-in coronavirus testing

A member of medical staff takes coronavirus test samples during drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing, on a converted ice rink, in Alkmaar, Netherlands April 8, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

ALKMAAR, The Netherlands (Reuters) - The Netherlands is ramping up testing for the new coronavirus with drive-in locations for healthcare personnel, including one site at an ice rink.

“In the summer this ice rink is not used. This is a very suitable location to test people in a safe and hygienic way,” Derk Burger, of the local health authority GGD told Reuters. He added some hundred people a day were tested at the site.

Last week the Dutch government announced it would ramp up testing capacity from some 4,000 tests a day to 17,500.

Previously the Dutch only tested hospital staff and patients with serious symptoms. Since Monday however, the drive-in test sites have been open to other health care workers like general practitioners, nursing home staff and home care workers with mild symptoms.

As of Wednesday 2248 people have died in the Netherlands of the coronavirus and there are currently 7,735 patients in hospital. The country has recorded 20,549 infections but health authorities say the true number is likely higher because of limited testing so far.

Reporting by Hilde Verweij, writing by Stephanie van den Berg

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