Following today’s worrying coronavirus update, experts have come together to warn the Netherlands to clamp down on the virus.
The RIVM published the weekly coronavirus update earlier today, and the figure that has dominated conversation since is the number of new cases: 987. That is almost double last week’s number of new cases, which was 534. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that carriers of the virus are infecting more people than they were last week.
This has brought the Dutch R (reproductive) number to 1.29, which means that every 100 people who are infected with coronavirus go on to infect 129 more, on average. Unless the R number drops below 1, the number of new cases will continue to increase.
“This is a significant increase in all areas,” says Aura Timen of the Center for National Coordination of Infectious Disease Control, who called the new figures “alarming” in an interview with NOS. “If this continues, we can lose control of the virus. This is a wake-up call: we shouldn’t go on like this.”
While many of the new infections are occurring within families or households, parties, workplaces and gatherings are definitely playing a role. These clusters are particularly common in Noord Holland, Zuid Holland and Zeeland. Most of those infected are relatively young, between 20 and 40 years of age.
The number of tests taken this week has increased, by just under 18%. However, this does not go all the way to explaining the increase in cases. Last week, 0.6% of those tested did have coronavirus: this has increased by two thirds this week to 1%.
The RIVM encourages people to stick to the measures in place, such as sneezing or coughing into your elbow, keeping 1.5m from other people, and staying at home and getting tested if you have symptoms. However, part of the problem is that people are no longer following these rules, especially at social gatherings. “People now have a sense of freedom and want to catch up on parties. But our concern is that the measures are no longer being observed,” says Timen.
If the Netherlands continues this way, the risk for a second wave in the autumn is much higher, Timen says. “If we continue like this, the risk that it will indeed come is much bigger.”
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