Coronavirus dashboard showing incomplete figures: report
The government's coronavirus dashboard, on which the main data of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is collected, is showing incomplete figures. Since the start of July, the dashboard showed 264 too few infections and 28 too few hospitalizations, according to a study by Marino van Zelst, PhD student of organizational sciences at Tilburg University, NRC reports.
The dashboard reported 1,390 new infections so far in July, while a total of 1,654 coronavirus infections were reported to public health institute RIVM. A total of 48 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the RIVM. The dashboard only reports 20 hospitalizations.
According to Van Zelst, the problem lies with how previously incorrect notifications are corrected. The dashboard is largely based on data from the RIVM, which sometimes receives information on positive tests days or weeks after they were done. The same goes for corrections. But the dashboard deducts all corrections from the current data.
For example, on July 14, health services GGD reported 97 positive tests to the RIVM. On the same day, 44 previously reported positive tests were corrected - they were actually negative tests but were reported as positive due to clerical errors or false positives. Some of these corrections were for tests done as far back as March. But on the dashboard, all corrections were subtracted from the July 14 figures. So for that day, the dashboard reported 53 infections, instead of 97. "The corrections have nothing to do with the current situation and distort the picture," Van Zelst said to the newspaper.
The idea behind the dashboard is for it to give current information about the situation around the coronavirus at a glance, so that quick action can be taken in the event of an outbreak. This error in recording figures could result in the dashboard signaling a new outbreak late.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health confirmed to NRC that the coronavirus figures are recorded and corrected in the way Van Zelst said. According to the spokesperson, it is for this reason that no "signal value" is attached to the number of positive tests. The "signal value" is a previously decided on value for a certain data set that will indicate when figures are getting dangerously high and measures need to be taken. There is a signal value on the number of hospital admissions.