Bad news if you were hoping to go on vacation this summer- or if you were hoping to resume normal life any time soon. Dutch virologists expect that coronavirus rules, such as the required 1.5 meter distance between people and the closures of restaurants and bars, will persist until July at least.
Most of us probably already knew this, in some dark corner of our brain, but it seems that normal life will not be returning any time soon, NOS reports with a series of interviews with virologists. None of them expect public life to resume before July, and several expect that many of the rules, especially those about public gatherings, may persist into next winter.
Peak of patients expected in May
There is no official prediction from the RIVM yet, and as of Tuesday, the government extended its current measures until April 28. But Director of the RIVM Jaap van Dissel told the House of Representatives on Wednesday that there is still a long way to go. Those of us who paid attention to Rutte’s press conference on Tuesday also won’t be surprised that measures are expected to continue past April 28: Rutte himself said that he would not plan to go away for the May holidays.
He expects the number of people in intensive care will hit its peak in May, and won’t return to current levels until July (that’s 1200 beds occupied, by the way). It is necessary to continue the coronavirus rules until the virus is fully under control, van Dissel says, otherwise you can expect it to just come back again.
A lot is still unknown about the virus
A lot is still uncertain about the virus, and how long it will take to get it under control. Plenty is still unknown: for example, it is not yet clear if children spread the virus. If research shows that they do not, they may be able to return to school sooner than otherwise expected. It is also unclear what percentage of the population is immune to the virus: if that’s higher than expected, we can also return to regular life sooner rather than later.
At the moment, it seems that the transmission rate of the virus is 0.3: a number low enough that if it remains constant, the virus will eventually extinguish itself. However, its ability to do that relies upon our continuation of social distancing measures.
Lifting social distancing measures will be staggered
It is likely that the coronavirus prevention measures will not be lifted all together: instead, they will probably be staggered and targeted. Restaurants will probably reopen before festivals or concert halls, for example.
Despite their uniform prediction that the measures against the virus will persist well after April 28, the virologists thought that it was a good date for the government to have chosen for a reevaluation. More information will be available to them then, including an indication of how effective the current measures are.
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