Coronavirus infections on the verge of rising again: Disease modeller
The coronavirus reproduction rate - the number of people a coronavirus patient infects - in the Netherlands is slowly rising to above one, according to Jacco Wallinga, the top infectious diseases modeller at public health agency RIVM. He said in an interview with newspaper Trouw that he worries the virus will flare up again.
In the first month of the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands the reproduction factor was about two and the number of infections doubled every four days. Lockdown measures implemented in mid-March brought that number down to below one, which means that on average someone with an active infection passed it on to less than one other person allowing the number of new patients to decrease.
As the lockdown measures relaxed, the government took into account that the infection rate would increase again. But the discipline to stick to physical distancing measures that are still in place is also deteriorating, Wallinga said. "People do not stick to the basic rules," he said. "I hope that with the source and contact investigation of the GGDs we can get the [infection rate] back down," he added.
"If not, I see the number of infections and hospital admissions increasing again this summer."
The government's data-driven coronavirus dashboard will sound the alarm if any one of three things happen: if more than ten new coronavirus patients are admitted to ICU for three consecutive days; if more than 40 new patients are hospitalized; or if the infection rate rises above one. It is the government that decides what to do when that alarm sounds.
Timely action is necessary, Wallinga said. The number of infections is low now, so the Netherlands can cope with a reproduction rate above one for a while. "But we saw in march that the peak was yet to come when the lockdown had already started. We cannot let a resurgence take its course."