Netherlands Begins Mass Testing to Isolate COVID-19 Variant

Dutch authorities began a mass testing program Wednesday in a coastal town after 30 cases of the new, more easily transmissible strain of COVID-19 was discovered at a grade school. Authorities set up a testing center in a sports hall in Bergschenhoek, part of the municipality of Lansingerland, near the port city of Rotterdam. While testing is mandatory, officials sent notices to the roughly 60,000 residents of the municipality requesting that anyone over the age of two be screened. Doctors say they want to learn as much as they can about a new COVID-19 variant first identified in Britain last month. They want to determine just how fast it is spreading and if it is spreading from children to adults. Health officials confirmed the variant virus does appear to be more easily transmissible, though it has not shown to lead to more severe infections.On Tuesday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended his country’s five-week lockdown amid concerns that infection rates are not falling quickly enough. Rutte also expressed concern about the new variant.    The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports the Netherlands has seen a total of 895,543 cases and 12,664 deaths.