There have been several positive trends in COVID-19 case numbers in the Netherlands in recent weeks. The RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) reports that in the week from 13 to 19 January, the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 fell by 21.5% compared to the week before.
A significant decrease in cases was observed across all age categories. The number of hospital and ICU admissions was also lower than the week before. The RIVM offers an in-depth overview of the weekly statistics on its website.
However, the RIVM states that this positive news is overshadowed by the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases stemming from the variant that originated in the UK. They estimated that around 10% of people who tested positive last week have the UK variant. This is double the amount from the week before.
The UK variant is considerably more contagious. The RIVM therefore predicts that the variant will be responsible for at least half of all new cases by mid-February.
Another new variant, stemming from South Africa, has also been identified in several cases in the Netherlands. The RIVM states that we are, in effect, tackling several epidemics simultaneously, one for each variant.
Increase in hospitalisations and deaths expected
Research indicates that the UK variant does not make people more or less sick than the more common variant. It is not yet clear how it affects children. However, as it is more contagious, the RIVM warns that it will lead to a surge in cases. This, in turn, will lead to increased hospital admissions and, ultimately, deaths. All of this will put enormous pressure on the Dutch healthcare system.
Author: Rachael Vickerman