Coronavirus weekly figures worse than expected; Up 95% versus last week
The coronavirus situation in the Netherlands was worse last week than preliminary figures had indicated, with 2,588 more individuals testing positive for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, public health agency RIVM confirmed. Initially, the official figure was expected to be around 2,200. The official data was also nearly double the total reported by public health agency RIVM a week ago.
The health crisis has steadily worsened since the beginning of July. Just 407 people tested positive for the virus during the week ending July 5, with 0.6 percent of all those tested giving a positive result. Both of those figures were at their lowest point since the start of the pandemic, and both rose quickly in each of the following four weeks. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Cabinet were criticized for not continuing their regiment of coronavirus press conferences to keep the issue at the forefront. Just before the RIVM revealed their latest data, the Cabinet announced that Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will hold a new press conference on Thursday at 7 p.m., their first since June 24.
Data from the agency on Tuesday showed that the percentage of those testing positive for the virus rose from about 1.1 percent of all tested individuals to 2.3 percent. That is also about four times higher compared to figures from the first week of July. There were also 242 active coronavirus clusters of three or more people in the Netherlands, with an average size of 5.7 people per cluster. The total number of clusters was 82 percent higher than last week.
"Most other infections are the result of contact with other family members, friends, parties, in the office or from other leisure activities such as catering locations or sports clubs," the RIVM said. About 53 percent of all new infections exist within a single household, 15 percent were among family members from different households, and 13 percent were connected to work.
Last month and in the beginning of August, most new infections were traced back to the areas surrounding Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague, with both Rotterdam and Amsterdam opting for a new face mask rule which obliges people in certain neighborhoods to wear masks on the street. The pilot program in both cities begins on Wednesday, and will initially last for up to four weeks. Violating the mask rule can lead to a fine in either city, with Amsterdam saying the fine will cost 95 euros.
Additionally, the basic reproduction (R) number of the virus fell to 1.20 from 1.40, meaning 100 patients battling a SARS-CoV-2 infection pass that virus on to 120 more people. While it appears the R-number fell, the margin of error means that it remained relatively unchanged, and it was still definitely above 1.0, the point at which the government said it would consider implementing more national measures.
40 more hospitalizations, 6 more deaths, over 1 million tested
Some 55,955 people in the Netherlands tested positive for the virus from the end of February through 10 a.m. on Tuesday. The number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, rose to 11,959, an increase of 40. Nearly all of the newly reported hospital admissions took place between July 24 and August 3, with three other admissions occurring earlier in July.
The RIVM also noted that six more people confirmed to have Covid-19 later died, a decrease of three compared to the previous week. Four of the deaths took place in the last week of July, one took place in early April, and the other in Late March. The official epidemiology report, finalized at 10 a.m., showed that 6,150 people in the Netherlands have died from Covid-19 since the beginning of March.
More people were also tested last week than at any other point in the coronavirus crisis. 115,525 people were tested by the municipal health service GGD, a hospital, care home, or elsewhere. That was an increase of over 3.5 percent. There was also some concern about fewer people contacting their local GGD to be tested for the virus, which makes up the vast majority of all tests conducted in the Netherlands. Just over 98 thousand reported to the GGD, a decrease of over 13 thousand.
Dutch healthcare workers have completed 1,079,860 tests for SARS-CoV-2 since early March.
Travel histories of patients
In the past two weeks, 218 people were diagnosed with an active coronavirus infection within 14 days of travelling abroad. Of that group, 49 people had visited Spain, 35 had been in France, and 33 spent time in Belgium. Germany was also the destination of choice for 19 people who tested positive for the virus, and ten infected people visited Poland.
The other most common destinations included Suriname (7), Turkey (7), Morocco (6), Austria (6), Bulgaria (4), Croatia (2), Greece (2) and Serbia (2). The itineraries of the remaining 32 people were not revealed by the RIVM.