The RIVM has released this week’s coronavirus infection numbers and while they continue to drop — this is not enough. Experts fear that the new variant of the virus could make matters worse.
This week saw 38,776 people become infected with coronavirus. This is almost 10,000 cases fewer than last weeks figure of 48,398, however, the question is whether this decline remains too slow.
This week also saw hospitalisations drop to 1,348 compared with 1,503 last week. The number of people in hospitals remains an issue for experts. They fear that hospitals may quickly become overwhelmed should the new variant take hold, as it did in the UK.
A total of 608 people died from coronavirus this week. This marks a slight decrease in the number of deaths, which stood at 743 last week.
Press conference concerning new measures announced
Earlier today, the Dutch cabinet announced that it would hold a press conference concerning new coronavirus measures on Wednesday at 1 PM.
Little is known of what will be said, but it is expected the cabinet will touch on the issue of a night curfew, visitor restrictions and geographical limits.
Curfew and stricter measures inevitable, experts say
According to experts, stricter measures in the Netherlands are still necessary. They believe that whilst the number of coronavirus infections is slowly going down at the moment, the British variant continues to circulate and this could lead to another rise in numbers.
“Although the lockdown does work, we expect that with only the current measures the infections will increase again because of that British variant,” epidemiologist and behavioural scientist Esther Metting tells the NOS.
Health economist and epidemiologist, Koen Pouwels, conducts large-scale coronavirus research at Oxford University. He believes that the Dutch need to get ahead of the new variant while they still can — and the only way to do this is through stricter coronavirus measures.
“You have to take a measure that reduces the number of contacts. That could be a curfew.” It could also be a reduction in the maximum number of guests allowed per household. Two guests are currently permitted per day but Pouwels says, “I think that’s quite a lot because, in theory, you can infect 14 people per week.”
Variant on the rise
Metting also tells the NOS that the incidence rate of the variant is on the rise. Of those who test positive for coronavirus in the Netherlands, a random selection is tested for the new variant of the virus. The number of these samples that test positive for the variant has now risen.
“In the Netherlands, we test randomly for the British variant and you can see that in three weeks the presence of the variant has gone from 1 to 12%,” Metting says.
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