Companies are turning to commercial Covid testing to avoid lengthy waits

A coronavirus nasal testing kit. Photo:

Big companies are turning to commercial coronvirus testing centre to avoid long waiting times and lengthy quarantine procedures for frontline staff, the NRC reports.

Companies such as Ahold, ASML, Daf and Hema now have contracts with commercial testers and construction sector umbrella organisations BouwendNederland and TechniekNeerland have also bought in commercial testing capacity for their members, the paper said.

At the beginning of October the waiting time for a test at one of the health board testing centres was an average of 89 hours, meaning almost a week off work for the person with suspected coronavirus and possibly his nearest colleagues.

Test waiting times have since gone down to 56 hours, the paper writes, but that is still too long for companies where part of the work still demands a physical presence of workers. Commercial testing centres pledge a wait of no more than 36 hours.

The decision to go commercial goes against an earlier urgent request from the health ministry to use only health board facilities so scarce lab capacity can be used as efficiently as possible.

But, the NRC writes, the move is a logical result of the government’s  inability to organise sufficient testing capacity and the lack of preparedness as cases mounted over the summer.

Not all tests will be bought from commercial parties. Ahold subsidiary Albert Heijn only resorts to commercial testing if waiting times exceed 24 hours as does budget chemist Kruidvat.

‘Most people still go to the health board testing centres,’ Kruidvat human resource manager Jan Carel Uylenburg told the paper. ‘But if they are too slow the company will decide differently. The sooner you know the better, for the people themselves and for the managers who have to keep the shop going.’


Hema, however, is thinking of introducing fast commercial testing for almost all its 12,000 strong workforce.

‘It’s not a criticism of the health boards who are doing what they can. But a 48 hour wait for a test plus a 48 hour wait for the result means a worker is off work for four days. That is simply too expensive,’ a spokesman told the paper.

Industry too is turning to commercial testing, particularly in sectors where vital highly trained and specialised staff cannot be replaced at a moment’s notice, as is the case at chip machinery maker ASML.

Heath minister Hugo de Jonge has said that he want to regulate private testing by companies according to guidelines to be drafted by health institute RIVM.  So far no date has been given for the presentation of those guidelines, the paper said.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.

Football news:

Baumgartner op de Oostenrijkse playoff exit: ik snap het nog steeds niet, mijn hoofd doet veel pijn. Maar we maakten geschiedenis
Kroos over het gesprek met Ronaldo na de eurowedstrijd: ik vroeg hem hoe het met hem ging in Italië. Ik was blij om je te zien
Zinchenko over de nederlaag van Oostenrijk: het spel in de eerste helft was onaanvaardbaar. Ik weet niet wat te zeggen
Matvienko op 0:1 met Oostenrijk: Oekraïne kon hun voetbal niet spelen vanwege nervositeit
Nederland won alle drie de wedstrijden in de Eurogroep voor de derde keer. De vorige zaak was in 2008
Andriy Shevchenko: het was fysiek moeilijk voor Oekraïne, we waren voortdurend te laat. Veel ongeforceerde fouten is vermoeidheid
Noord-Macedonië verloor alle 3 wedstrijden op de eerste Euro met een doelverschil van 2-8