People in the Netherlands can help to identify complaints that could point to new coronavirus infections. They can do so via infectieradar.nl.
Once a week, they can report whether they had a fever or other complaints in the previous week. This enables the Dutch Health Department (RIVM) to monitor how health complaints are spread across the country and how these develop over time. The data will serve as input for scientific research.
The RIVM is monitoring the development of this new coronavirus strain based on doctors reporting infections. But many people have mild symptoms and are not tested. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to follow how the coronavirus is developing in the Netherlands. With this Infectieradar (Infection radar), they can get a picture of the virus’ spread. The more people participate, the more reliable this picture is.
The Health Department hopes about 100,000 people throughout the country will participate. It does not matter whether people actually have COVID-19 or, for example, flu or a cold. It is mainly about the course of the associated complaints and the pressure this causes in the healthcare sector.
How will it work?
People can register via the infectieradar.nl website (in Dutch). They need to register with a username and e-mail address. After registration, they will receive a questionnaire with questions about their background. These questions are about gender, age, and job. It includes questions about existing diseases and disorders such as diabetes, asthma, etc.
If people pass the muster, participants will receive a weekly e-mail. It will contain a request to report which symptoms they had in the past week. These include things like having a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and fever. If someone did not have any complaints, they need to report this too. Then, the form takes about 30 seconds to complete.
If someone does register complaints, a few follow-up questions about the details of these complaints will be asked. For example, information about when the symptoms started, whether someone went to a doctor or took sick leave. If someone registers complaints, it takes three to five minutes to complete the questionnaire.
Thanks to all the submitted data, it will soon be possible to see on a map of the Netherlands, for example, how many people have fever-like symptoms per postal code area.
The Infectieradar website is part of Influenzanet. This is a European partnership with various universities and governments in Europe. The RIVM participates in this partnership. Influenzanet aims to monitor and map symptoms of viral infections, such as influenza, in people in the EU European Union.
Translated and edited for EN readers by the Eindhoven News team