Is It Safe To Visit A Dentist During The Corona Pandemic?

Unlike Dutch nationals, expats might not visit oral health practices too often for routine dental care as the treatment costs sound sky high, unless insured. However, if someone suffers an intense pain in tooth or gums, then you are not left with a choice but to consult a dentist. And now with the Corona virus into the bargain, everyone across the globe is so skeptical about visiting general/dental care centers. During the time when the active Corona cases are increasing daily in the Netherlands, staying cautious is the safety mantra. Well, considering the fact that dentist needs to work in an intimate contact with the patient and in an aerosol generating environment which could be a possible threat, it’s quite obvious to enter a state of dilemma of whether to visit the dentist or not. Not to worry friends, if it’s urgent don’t hesitate to run to the nearest dental practice. I have seen Dutch natives and many expats from everywhere across the world actively making their appointments for simple dental procedures like scaling and polishing(mondhygiene) and a routine check- up(controle) or follow- ups. Though it may seem strange to us but we need to get over the fear of nosocomial infections. All we need to do is follow the Corona Guidelines sincerely anywhere we go. In fact, I would say that it is more safe in a dental atmosphere than in a grocery shop or supermarkets. Have you heard of any Corona case transmission through a dental practice? I guess, no. Isn’t it commendable that despite a close contact work and a high- risk category, dental staff makes sure that the highest level of disinfection protocols are being followed at every cost. As the health safety is of utmost importance, the Dutch Dental Associations(ANT, KNMT) have come up already with strict guidelines to make sure that the preventive measures against corona are effectively put into action to keep up the good standards of hygiene for both the clients and employees. So you need not to be anxious while going out for a dental treatment, it is completely safe. Find out how safe is it to visit a dentist during the Corona pandemic.

Corona safety measures taken in a dental practice

  • A general telephonic enquiry about the Corona/flu symptoms and travel history is made thoroughly by the dental staff before scheduling any appointment.
Man in White Crew Neck T-shirt Holding Stay At Home Sign
Image from pexels.com
  • Patients are requested to arrive 5 minutes before the appointment. If they arrive too early and no seat is available, they need to wait outside/car.
  • Use of special door posters with corona measures for better understanding and awareness are pasted.
Door posters with the Corona Measures (with English translation)
  • Waiting rooms are arranged such that 1.5m distance is maintained between the patients if more than one arrives at the same time. A demarcation line is drawn to ensure safe distance during conversation between a dentist and patient.
  • Patients are advised to come alone as much as possible
  • Everyone entering the practice (oral care professionals, patients or others) need to wash their hands with soap and water or disinfectant(hand alcohol) and are not allowed to touch unnecessarily mobile phones, door handles or any stuff around. .
  • Hand shakes are avoided.
  • 1% hydrogen peroxide is used to rinse the patient’s mouth for 1minute prior to any aerosols treatment procedure to decrease the bacterial pressure. Rubber dam use is mandatory.
  • Every dental equipment or materials used are disinfected with 80% alcohol or sterilized using an autoclave after each use. Disposable cleaning stuff is brought in use as much as possible.
  • Dental staff use hand gloves, nose and mouth mask, water proof face shields for protection.
  • Door handles, card transaction machine, wash basins, chairs and tables are cleaned from time to time daily.

What if you are infected with the Coronavirus but need urgent dental care?

If you are corona positive and suffer toothache or any severe dental related problem that needs urgent care, you can receive a referral from the dentist to visit the CAM (Corona Centre for Acute Dental Care). Also dentists might not accept clients over the age of 65 to maintain safety as they are a risk category. A special department for that is established in the hospital, if elderly are in need for dental treatment.

The cross-infection protocols in the Netherlands are always amongst the most strict in Europe.

A Safe Road trip to Bavaria, Germany during Covid-19

The Eibsee Lake, Bavaria Copyright by Kanika Gupta
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The Obersee Lake in foggy summers

It was a thoughtful journey of two couples, me and my husband, and a companionable pair who were actively waiting for the signals to turn green for traveling within the European Countries during the Corona outbreak worldwide. Another important concern was to follow the Guidelines and the necessary tips before booking a summer trip. Following a few informational links, it was clear that Germany falls under code yellow and we need to strictly trail around with certain measures such as using mouth and nose masks at public places ( WC, Petrol stations, public transport), using hand sanitizers and staying 1.5-meter distance away from others.

Countryside Bavarian Alps

Since we were free from any flu symptoms, it was time to scroll the bucket list and plan a thorough itinerary crossing across the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Southern Bavaria and the radiant romantic road, Germany. It was end of July when we fastened the seat belts to navigate through the fascinating lakes, mountains, castles and fanciful towns while exploring the countryside bordering Austria – Germany. Ultimately the most awaited road trip to 350 km long romantic route in southern Germany began in the early morning for a 10 hour’s drive from Amsterdam to the first place of our stay in Gästehaus Heiss Sonnbichl 3, 6633 Biberwier, Austria completing the enthralling journey of about 850km.

Day 1 – Fussen town, Neuschwanstein, Eibsee lake 

With an exciting smile on our faces, we turned on the car wheels towards the medieval city center of the Fussen town that embraced the southern end of the romantic road. We could feel a leisurely and captivating ambiance around the shops, open restaurants, cafes, museums, and unique frescoes. The Neuschwanstein, the fairy tale castle was in the vicinity(5 min drive), so we booked a horse cart service(€4 per person) in the downtown that seemed to be packed with souvenirs, resorts, parking, bus station, a huge crowd of tourists and a far-sighted view of the castle. You can also book a guided tour to get inside the castle to appreciate the typical historic creation but to avoid hassle standing in an unending queue for tickets, we chose to take an exterior view of the castle which was spectacular and quite a primitive simulation of a castle from Disney classic. The spare time was dedicated to the upcoming natural wonder, the gorgeous Eibsee lake, Grainau. The simple hike along the turquoise-colored, translucent natural waters washing through the foot of Zugspitze mountain was literally mesmerizing. It was simply soothing to have a fascinating landscape view while strolling around the enticing alpine lake of South Bavaria. 

Museum der stadt, Fussen
Horse carriage ride to Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
The castles of Bavaria

Day 2 – Hiking trail to Alpspitze

Keeping in mind the weather forecast (sunny, 27-31°C), we checked out for an interesting hike(level- moderate) to Northern limestone Alps, Alpspitze, 2,628 m. It was just a 45 min drive to the base Hammerbasch village and a 10 min walk to the Alpspitzbahn cable car up the mountain( ticket cost – €17.50 per person). We were welcomed by the AlpspiX viewing metal mesh- platform, restaurants, and seating deck after an enthralled ascent through the lush green valley. Few hours of sightseeing, photography, and refreshments, it was time to march downhill 8.5 km along the Höllentalangerhütte to continue towards Höllentalklamm Gorge and back to Hammersbach. The trek began in the scorching sun and ended up walking through the river streams, waterfalls, tunnels and caverns. The melting glaciers dropping and roaring of the boulders was a phenomenal epitome of pristine nature, adventure, and romance in cold tumbling showers in a hot humid summer.

Timings for the hike- 3.5 hours descent

Alpspitzbahn cable car ticket showing extended metal platform
Waterstream, Hammerbasch village
Hiking trail to Alpspitze
Edge of the hiking track, Alpspix
Caves, Hollentalklamm gorge
Bene Throne

Day 3 – Konigssee Lake, Obersee lake, Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden 

Just an hour’s drive and a quick walk-through attractive shops displaying vintage clothing, antique crystals, and sparkling stones on each side of the road, we reached the Boat dock for purchasing tickets. The quiet electric ferry rides you gently through the serene beauty of the majestic lake and emerald fjords cuddled in the arms of gigantic alpine alps. It was a feeling of lying peacefully in the lap of mother nature when we encountered Christlieger Island, numerous boathouses, and the Falcon Stone memorial across the poised lake. Another impressive part that drew our attention was when the boat’s captain told about the world’s famous echo chamber and demonstrated it by playing trumpet. We could actually hear the reverberating sounds played by the man. We got off the boat at the first stop, the Church of Saint Bartholomä, spent some time traversing the grounds and hopped back again into the final ferry boat that landed us to Salet where you can take nature’s call in restrooms and relax under restaurant huts. It took a 10-minute walk from the ferry dock to reach the secluded crystal- clear lake, the Obersee. What an awestruck moment for each one of us to witness such an incredible and heavenly piece of earth, the drizzling raindrops, and fog draped mountains added to the theatrical scenery. We dedicated 5 hours completely to the place taking pictures and swimming in the lukewarm waters(15°) in Obersee. We headed back and eventually decided to visit St. Sebastian church in Ramsau village. Again a picturesque place with a riverside church and a spellbound bridge in front of the ReiterAlpe Mountain range. 

Round trip ferry cost- Adults- 16.90€ per person, the boat is every 15-30 min on the stops till 6:00 pm. 

Useful Tips: Double-check the time for the last boat to depart from the Salet. 

Electric Ferry Boat, Konigsee lake in Berchtesgaden
Church of Saint Bartholomä with onion red rooftops, Berchtesgaden
Europe travel to Nature, Der Obersee
Mesmerizing Obersee lake
Waterfall and Alps reflection on the crystal clear Turquoise Obersee water

Day 4 – Romantische strasse, Dinkelsbuhl

After checking out from Airbnb in the morning, our new day began with the rocking music beats in the car that was rushing through the green and golden terrains, vineyards and sunflower fields towards the theme route, the Romantic towns of Germany. The first destination was Augsburg, which is famous for the history of Fuggers, a rich family of bankers or merchants who built Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social settlement. Keeping a close look at the maps, the next stop probably was romantic Strasse and medieval towns of Dinkelsbuhl, a free monarchical city with unusual yet magnificent street plans that were never actually planned but grown organically. Spending our day around the magnificently colored structures, cathedrals, lofty gates, and endless green fields along the romantic road of Germany, we then headed to the next place to stay in Marktbergel, Germany.  After an amazing dinner, we chose to go out for a pleasant night walk around the homestay. 

Tip: You can appreciate the colors of the street houses more during the dusky twilight.

Romantic Strasse, Germany

Terrains alongside the Romatic road, Germany

Day 5 – Plonlein, Rothenburg ob de tauber

With a nostalgic feeling, we packed our bags again and followed the route towards our home in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Luckily, our desire to hold another trace of memories from Rothenburg ob de Tauber decelerated the car in Plonlein which was known for the yellow, tilted timber-frame house at the entrance with a fountain. The place was so rich and charming, that wherever we stood for pictures, it seemed like a photography spot. This place itself led to a historic double road bridge, the tauber bridge with two rows of arches and apple trees on its way. And with this, it was time to bid adieu to Romantic road at Wurzburg. We were carrying bundles of ever cherishing memories of magical landscapes and tons of fun we had during our stay.

Plonlein, Rothenburg ob de tauber
Rothenburg ob de tauber
Souvenirs Shop
The Tauber Bridge
Wide- Open streets, Rothenburg

You must have noticed that most of our stay was booked in Austria while the main trip destinations were mostly in Germany so that we could experience and cherish Austria’s countryside way of living as well.Here, I have some helpful tips for curious travelers.

Essential backpack items:

  • Identity card: Passport/ Residence permit
  • Phone chargers
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 10-12 face and nose masks or scarf
  • Trekking poles/ sticks
  • Sun protection lotion
  • Medicines- Paracetamol, pain relief gel or spray, band-aids
  • Eatables- Burgers, bread, bread spread, jam, tea bags, butter cake, veggies, fruits 

Non- essential items:

  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Playing cards
  • Camera
  • Umbrella  

Driving tips:

Do not forget to carry your valid driver’s license, fuel card, vehicle RC card. Also make sure you have easy access to GPS or navigation apps (Google Maps, Waze).

Before entering the Austria motorways border, buy and display a toll vignette(sticker) at any major border crossings into Austria or at larger petrol stations (cost is € 9,40 for 10 days) or get digital vignette online to avoid a toll fine of €120.

You can also rent a car at genuine rates from Goldcar.

Hiking tips:

Wear Lightweight hiking shoes and don’t miss grabbing trekking poles/ sticks, water bottles, sun protection lotion, energy bars or drinks.

Personal tips:

Use of ‘Splitwise app’ to keep the record and distribute the expenses amongst the group of friends. Save your planned itinerary and a list of important stuff on ‘keep notes’ mobile app. 

What we missed?

Swimming in a natural bathing city of Salzburg in river Taugl, near Kuchl town due to heavy rainfall.  

Mittenwald village amidst the alpine peaks and painted cottages. 

Total group budget:

€1,134.87(excluding fuel)

Travel with extreme care. Stay safe and healthy!

Corona: Testing Procedure in GGD Netherlands

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If you have Corona symptoms, Government of Netherlands offers two ways to register and get you tested.

  • Website dedicated to Corona https://coronatest.nl/ – You need “Digid”, Phone number, email address to book a test and check the results. You will receive confirmation email once you registered successfully. Take this along to the test location. Important: You can not use Public transport to travel test location. Discuss this when you are making an appointment.
  • Dedicated telephone line 0800-1202-In case you are booking a test for child aging 0-6 years or you do not have Digid or you are a foreign tourist you can 0800-1202 is the contact number available all day between 08:00 and 20:00. Have your Social security number(BSN) handy which must be required.
  • If you are outside Netherlands +31 850 659 063 is the number you can contact at.

If you have any corona symptoms you can get tested for free of charge. In case of serious complaints you can call your GP and for danger of life call emergency number 112.

Role of Municipal Public Health Services (GGD)

The Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) and hospitals administer the test. GGDs are the Medical and Health services in Netherlands. If you have Corona symptoms, you can register online or via phone for the test.

  • On registering a test, GGD will send you an email.
  • Nearest Test location will be possibly allocated and test procedure will be informed through an email.
  • Take an email Print out, Proof of identity: your passport, identity card or driver’s license and carry it with you to the designated location.
  • The GGD employee conduct the swab test by inserting a cotton swab in your nose and throat. This only takes a few seconds.
  • The cotton swab will be sent to the lab and test for Covid-19 will be verified. 
  • Test is free of cost. You need not to pay.
  • You should immediately go home and stay inside till you get the result.
  • Do not use Public transport. Come on foot, by bike or by car. Use a mouth mask if you are in a car with someone else.
  • If you have any questions about test locations, Inform GGD while making an appointment.
  • GGD will trace the contact history if your test report is positive and you share room, house or have been in close contact with someone throughout that period.Your contacts will be called by GGD and advised to quarantine for 10 days.

Types of tests

  1. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test – detects the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and Indicates if you are infected presently or not. Smear Test is the most common way of testing and is used by the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs). Result is given within 24 – 48 hours.
  2. Serological test – Checks for antibodies against Corona virus. This test tells whether you were already infected. GGD does not test for antibodies and hence perform no serological test.

Air Travel During Corona

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We know World is affected by Corona crisis so does our lives . Unforeseen travel situation made this even more difficult. This post is sum up of all such questions that may arise while travelling to and from Netherlands.

Is Health Declaration needed to travel?

Yes, If you are travelling from Netherlands, Schipol Airport has a form available on their website-https://www.schiphol.nl/en/page/coronavirus/ .You must have two hard copies of this form which can be asked to show while coming in- or going out of the Netherlands. Ministry of health, welfare and sport uses this data to prevent and decide corona measures. You may asked for Health declaration anywhere throughout the journey. Always keep it handy.

Does Testing for Corona is needed ?

If you are travelling from Netherlands, it is important to have PCR test done. PCR Test detects presence of novel corona virus in the body. Many countries asked for proof of Corona testing and only allows travelers with Negative test report to enter. **Check the destination country/airport for their travel advisory during corona.

Where to do PCR test?

A) Airlines like KLM provides PCR Testing by appointment only. KLM only test travelers either with no corona symptoms or those who does not covered under Dutch testing policy. Book a test atleast two to three days before the flight and Result will be given within 24-32 hrs. Testing costs Eur 145. https://klmhealthservices.com/en/journey-preparation/coronatest/book-now/. KLM has Travel Clinics in Hague, Schipol Oost (East) and Schipol Airport. Timings and availability may vary.

B) You can visit various websites for private testing irrespective of Corona symptoms. Below are two of them :

  • https://www.hethuisartslab.com/veelgestelde-vragen. The U-diagnostics test technology has been validated by RIVM / RKI. They Charge Eur 100 per person. Test result will be delivered very next day to the registration.You can either get a referral from GP or register for a test without that.
  • https://coronalab.eu/.This is Dutch CDC (RIVM) valid laboratory, opens 6 days a week and provides the result on the same day. Testing for an adult costs Eur 149.95 ( Payment accepted only through Card).

C) Schipol Airport: You can get tested at the airport between hall 3 and 4 if you are coming from Covid-hit areas. GGD will select the flight and inform passengers accordingly at the arrival gate. As of 12th September 2020 testing center is closed temporarily.

D) Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs): If you have mild to severe symptoms, you can book an appointment with GGD. Test is free of cost. You can register and book a test at Website: https://coronatest.nl/. In case of much severe symptoms, call your GP or hospital. And for life and death situation call emergency number 112.

Follow our another Post for GGD’s Corona Testing Procedure https://themovinghumans.com/2020/09/13/corona-testing-procedure-in-ggd-netherlands/.

Quarantine In Netherlands

On reaching Netherlands, you have to self quarantine for 10 days at your accommodation and should avoid to go outside. If you have Corona test report already done and it is negative even then the same quarantine rules apply.

** Travel advice may change during the travel. Check the destination country for their travel advisory during corona as well.