New coronavirus measures needed quickly to stop second wave: Healthcare experts
The government needs to take new coronavirus measures within three days to prevent a new wave of the epidemic, epidemiologists Arnold Bosman and Amrish Baidjoe, health economist Xander Koolman, and former chief inspector of the Healthcare Inspectorate Wim Schellekens said in a letter to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, Nieuwsuur reports.
In a letter to parliament on Tuesday, De Jonge gave more details about a government evaluation of the coronavirus approach. In the letter he stressed "the importance of various perspectives" and "the input of experts not previously involved in the process." He called on eternal experts to help think about improvements in the event of a second wave and submit their advice by September. Nine experts are mentioned by name, including Bosman, Baidjoe, Koolman, and Schellekens.
According to the four experts, there is definitely no time to wait until September. They see an "urgent threat to public health", warning that "the rapid progression of the number of reported cases calls for swift action", according to Nieuwsuur. "Which is why we decided to send this letter before the evaluation," they wrote. Schellekens told the news program: "Looking at the past week, we are so concerned that things are exploding that we decided to come up with advice now."
The experts wrote that the government and Outbreak Management Team (OMT) are mainly blaming the current increase in infections on the behavior of citizens, but they think that at least part of the blame lies with the government. Government messages contain unclear language and communication to citizens has been limited in recent weeks, they wrote. Source and contact tracing is also often incomplete and often not finished in time. The increase in air traffic and the lack of quarantining of returning travelers may also play a role in the increased infections, they said.
They called on the government to take new measures very quickly. They recommend making people wear masks in the catering industry and in contact professions, both customers and staff. "We believe that there is sufficient evidence for the protective effect of face masks. Let's arrange for them to be used, for example, by hairdressers," Bosman said to Nieuwsuur. They called for investment in stronger source and contact tracing, and making testing more accessible by having more labs perform tests and ensuring that people can be tested at home if necessary. And they want mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving from risk areas, instead of the current urgent advice.
This sharp increase in coronavirus infections won't disappear by itself, the experts said. "Any delay in measures during a worsening epidemic will lead to a disproportionate increase in the ultimate number of victims."