Do you have symptoms that could indicate the novel coronavirus?  Make an appointment to get tested. This is how we can control the spread of the virus and protect each other. Only go outside for the test. Stay home until you receive the test results. 

Do you have symptoms? Schedule a test!

You can make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19 in 2 ways: online or by phone.

  • Online: go to coronatest.nl. You will need your secure DigiD login details to access the site.
  • Phone: call 0800-1202. The number can be reached 7 days a week between 8:00 and 20:00.Please note: if you do not have a DigiD, or if you want to schedule an appointment for a child, you will need to call the toll-free number 0800 1202 (or +31 850 659 063 if you're calling from a foreign phone) to make an appointment.

Go to government.nl for more information about testing.

  • Call your GP if you are experiencing severe shortness of breath or have a high fever, or if you are worried.
  • Always call 112 if the situation is life-threatening.

Testing policy for healthcare workers

It is still very important for healthcare workers to get tested immediately if they have mild symptoms. The testing policy for healthcare workers (in Dutch) takes into account optimal staff deployment, the health of the employees, and the risk of infecting patients or clients. 

Once you have been tested...

Stay home until you get the results. Do you have mild symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, accompanied by fever and/or shortness of breath? And are there other people living in your household? Then the other household members must also stay home until you have a negative test result. Read more about this on Government.nl.

Do your household members also have symptoms? Then they should get tested too.

If it turns out that you are not currently infected with the novel coronavirus, you and your household members can go outside again. Once the test confirms that you do not have COVID-19, you can go outdoors and go back to work, unless you are too ill to do so. Children can go back to school and/or childcare. If the symptoms do not go away, if your symptoms get worse, or if you develop new symptoms, then call your GP. In a life-threatening situation, always call 112.

If it turns out that you do have the novel coronavirus, you and your household members must stay home. The Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) will tell you what you need to do, and what the people around you need to do. Exceptions can only be made for people working in critical sectors or crucial professions in consultation with the GGD and the company doctor, and only if these people do not have symptoms More information about the household routine and what you should do if you have COVID-19 is available here.

There are two types of tests.

One test determines if someone has the novel coronavirus at that time, and the other checks if someone has had the novel coronavirus in the past.

 

Test to determine if you are infected now

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test

The PCR test, which specifically detects the presence of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), is the most frequently used test. A smear is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab. This sample is sent to a laboratory for the PCR test. 
This procedure is used by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). It takes about 24 to 48 hours after the sample is taken before the patient hears the results. The procedure in the laboratory takes 4-8 hours. Rapid PCR tests are now also being used that provide results at the laboratory within an hour. These tests are intended for situations where rapid diagnosis is absolutely vital. For example, if someone has to be treated in hospital for heart failure or organ transplant. This type of test is not intended to be used in test lanes for general COVID-19 diagnostics.

 

Test to determine if you were previously infected

Serological test
This test determines if there are antibodies against the novel coronavirus in your blood. It involves taking a blood sample. At this time, this test is only used for research purposes by selected laboratories, to see if people are producing antibodies against the novel coronavirus. There are also tests that detect the presence of virus proteins. These tests are used for research at a population level to see whether people in the Netherlands are building up immunity against the virus.

Rapid serological tests are not reliable!

Planning to buy a rapid serological test from a commercial provider to see if you already had the virus? That is not a good idea. There are many of these rapid serological tests on the market. Research shows that these tests are not reliable (results published in Dutch). So far, none of the rapid diagnostic tests examined by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment are suitable for diagnostics in individual patients or for home use. For that reason, RIVM is cautious about processing requests for evaluation of rapid serological tests. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) has also published a report about this.   More info at IGJ. The World Health Organization also discourages the use of rapid serological tests.

Coordinating role for RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment

The Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) and hospitals administer the tests. RIVM draws up the guidelines and protocols for testing and for source and contact tracing. The quality of the tests being offered is monitored closely. Right now, RIVM is investigating:

  • Which antibody test gives the most reliable result. 
  • Whether having antibodies does in fact mean that you can no longer contract the virus, and that you will no longer become ill from the virus. People with mild symptoms may have fewer antibodies, which could mean that they are not fully protected against the virus. 

The Dutch testing policy is based on advice from the Outbreak Management Team.  

Evaluating tests

RIVM is involved in evaluating polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and serological testing. We are often asked whether test methods that have been submitted are in fact suitable for diagnostics.
The Serology Task Force has provided an overview (in Dutch) of the validations performed for various tests intended for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

Testing capacity depends on people and materials

When we refer to testing capacity, we are talking about many different aspects. By testing according to careful guidelines, we are ensuring that sufficient facilities are available to use resources efficiently. 
Materials are needed to perform the test, such as cotton swabs, packaging materials and personal protective equipment for the workers taking the samples. Materials are also needed for the analysis in the lab: fluids, filters and components in the analysis equipment, as well as the devices themselves. And people are needed: people to administer the tests, transport them to the lab, analyse them in the lab, make the appointments, and communicate the results. 

Developing alternative tests

RIVM is also working with national and international laboratories to find possible options to supplement the current tests. Besides the current PCR tests, which detect the genetic material of the virus, we are also looking at other types of tests. One type is antigen tests, which detect the presence of virus proteins; another type is serological tests, which detect the presence of antibodies in the blood. By using these tests, for example in combination with the current test, more people can be tested to find out whether they have the novel coronavirus (or have had it previously).

LAMP Method

In addition to the PCR test currently being used as the standard, alternative test methods are also being developed. Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) method is being tested in practice. At the test lanes operated by the Amsterdam Municipal Public Health Service (GGD Amsterdam), this test method is now being used alongside the standard PCR tests. Its performance is being compared to the reliability of the PCR test.

 

The LAMP method, like the PCR test, is used to detect the presence of genetic material from the novel coronavirus. The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has developed a simple and robust application of the method for detecting the virus in throat and nose swabs. This new approach will make it possible to simplify and reduce the number of intermediate steps in testing. That will save time, actions, materials and money. In addition, the LAMP response is faster and the instruments needed are simpler, because the process takes place at one constant temperature. Moreover, it relies in part on different enzymes than those used in the PCR test, so it will not lead to shortages.

 

What is RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment doing?

In the project, TNO is working with GGD Amsterdam, DSM, Leiden University Medical Centre, the University Medical Centre of Groningen, and RIVM. RIVM is involved in the design, validation and evaluation of the practice-based assessment. In addition, RIVM is investigating whether the virus is rendered sufficiently harmless at the start of the LAMP detection procedure (virus inactivation). If this is the case, the follow-up steps do not have to be carried out in a specially secured laboratory. For the time being, tried-and-tested chemicals are still being used for virus inactivation. The aim is to replace these chemicals with an alternative, to ensure that sufficient stocks remain available.
 

Together with partners in the field, RIVM is looking at how the technique can be incorporated into testing policy. RIVM is also exploring whether the method can be used to detect the virus in other contexts, such as sewage samples. If that is the case, the method could be used to supplement coronavirus monitoring in sewage research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

Can I use a rapid serological test to test myself?

RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is researching COVID-19 rapid serological tests that are being offered for home use or by third parties at a specific location. These are not self-tests, but rapid serological tests (‘sneltesten’ in Dutch). So far, the quality of these rapid tests has been insufficient to test on individual patients or to use at home.  The results are not reliable. Users may become unnecessarily worried, or they may be wrongly reassured. The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) has also published a report about this. Tests that can be used at home to check whether you are infected with a disease are prohibited if they have not first been assessed by a notified body.  More info at IGJ. The World Health Organization also discourages the use of rapid serological tests.

 

Are alternative testing methods being investigated?

RIVM is working with national and international laboratories to find different testing methods that require other laboratory materials. Besides the current PCR tests, which detect the genetic material of the virus, we are also looking at other types of tests. These are tests that detect the presence of virus proteins (antigen tests). RIVM is also looking at tests that detect the presence of antibodies in the blood (serological tests). With the help of these tests, for example in combination with the current test, we may be able to test more people to find out if they have (or have had) the coronavirus.

 

Can I have a test to see if I have already had the virus and if I have antibodies against the novel coronavirus?

No, people are already being tested to a limited extent as part of research into the spread of the virus in the Netherlands. Right now, RIVM is investigating which antibody test gives the most reliable result. We discourage people from having their blood tested for the presence of antibodies against the novel coronavirus. This can give a feeling of false security. RIVM is currently investigating whether the presence of antibodies also means that you can no longer get the virus, and that you can no longer become ill from it. People with mild symptoms may have fewer antibodies, which could mean that they are not fully protected against the virus.