COVID-19: Should more rules be eased now or later?

coronavirus, COVID-19
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The Dutch government has a choice to make. Do they want COVID-19 infection rates to drop quickly or slowly?

That’s according to Marino van Zelst, a RedTeam researcher. This organisation has been advising the government about the virus for a while now. If the cabinet wants cases to decrease slowly, says Van Zelst, they should relax measures. If not, they should wait.

There’s a press conference this evening. However, the interim cabinet will only decide on Monday if measures are to be eased or not. The Dutch national broadcaster, NOS, reports that that’s the second step in the reopening plan.

Step Two

Step two means relaxation for outdoor locations like amusement parks and zoos. Under certain conditions, they’ll be allowed to admit people again. The same applies to indoor swimming pools and gyms.

The opportunities for outdoor sports will also be expanded. And cultural activities, like music classes, will again be allowed. These relaxations were initially planned for 12 May.

But Cabinet postponed this by at least a week because hospital admissions hadn’t yet decreased. Van Zelst doubts COVID-19 cases will peak if the government decides to relax regulations. He thinks there either be a faster or slower decline in infection rates.

“If we’re already in a downward trend, it may be that the number will fall more slowly. If you want then to fall quickly, you have to wait a little with the easing.”

Care sector still under pressure

“There’s still a lot of pressure on the care sector. But, it seems the number of admissions is starting to decrease,” says the scientist. So, the government’s currently aiming for easing measures on 19 May.

However, it’s still uncertain whether the decline will continue. The government will, therefore, only decide two days beforehand. In other words, in a week, Cabinet will say whether the easing will take place one day later.

When the government took the first reopening step, the number of admissions started to drop. That was, unfortunately, not the case. “We’re in the same situation now. Virus control-wise, it’s better to wait a week. Other factors play a role too.”

Less reliable figures

The infection figures are becoming a little less reliable, says the RedTeam member. “Fewer people are being tested.” Also, people can do rapid tests. That adds to the unclear image.

“If they test positive, they no longer visit their local health department.” Conversely, if people test negative, they assume they’re not infected. Those tests are, however, only 80% reliable.

This evening, Prime Minister Mark Rutter and Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge will discuss the rest of the opening plan. Step three was set to happen on 26 May.

Sources: OmroepBrabant and NOS

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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