In the Infection Radar survey last week, the percentage of participants with COVID-19 like complaints decreased slightly (4%) as compared to the week before (4.4%). The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) reported to the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) decreased (-37%) last week compared to the week before that.
The number of people who were tested for COVID-19 by the GGD also decreased (-30%). The number of nursing home residents who tested positive for COVID-19 decreased by 34% last week. On 25 October 2022, the reproduction number based on reported positive tests was 0.79 (0.71 – 0.88). The number of new hospital admissions of patients with SARS-CoV-2 decreased (-26%) compared to the week before. The number of new ICU admissions of patients with SARS-CoV-2also decreased. There were 33 ICU admissions last week (-38%), compared to 53 ICU admissions the week before.
According to the RIVM updates, last week 7,719 persons reported positive corona test results as compared to 12,311 persons, week before. There were 426 persons newly hospitalised as compared to 572, the week before. The COVID-19 related mortality number increased to 29 as compared to 38 deaths, the week before.
In week 43 (24-30 October 2022), sewage surveillance showed that the national average viral load decreased by 27%, continuing to decrease by 26% in the first half of week 44 (31 October – 2 November). The highest figures were seen in Gooi- en Vechtstreek (week 43) and Zeeland (week 44), and figures were also high in Haaglanden in both weeks. Once again, the Omicron BA.5 variant and its sub-variants were detected most frequently, still including a high percentage of BF.7, but with a significant increase in BQ.1 in recent weeks.
Virus variants from pathogen surveillance
Since early 2022, RIVM has mainly observed many different sub-variants that belong to the Omicron family, specifically sub-variants BA.1 through BA.5, in the context of pathogen surveillance. But mutations are also emerging within these sub-variants. The same pattern is occurring in other countries as well.
Omicron BA.2 was initially dominant in the Netherlands, followed by BA.2; since June 2022, BA.5 has been responsible for the highest number of infections. By now, there are multiple sub-variants of BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 that are being monitored more closely. From BA.2, we are seeing sub-variants BA.2.75 and BA.2.12.1. From BA.4, we are seeing sub-variant BA.4.6. And sub-variants of BA.5 include BF.7 and BQ.1 (as well as BQ.1.1). RIVM is also monitoring recombinant strains of variants, such as XBB, which combine characteristics of other variants.
An increase in BA.4.6, BA.2.75 and BF.7 had already been observed over the past few weeks. More recently, the percentage of sub-variant BQ.1, including BQ.1.1, has been growing significantly. Recombinant XBB has only been observed a few times so far. At this time, there are no indications that these sub-variants are more likely to cause severe illness compared to previous Omicron sub-variants.
The latest calculations suggest that BQ.1 (including BQ.1.1) may become dominant in the Netherlands during this month. These estimates always have some margin of uncertainty. It is also possible that multiple variants, including BQ.1, will continue circulating at the same time. New variants or sub-variants may also emerge.
Translated: Yawar Abbas