5,000 Covid hospital patients expected next month without tough restrictions
If stricter measures are not taken and quickly, the Netherlands can expect to have almost 5 thousand coronavirus patients in hospital next month, Peter Paul van Benthem, chairman of the Federation of Medical Specialists (FMS), said in a blog on Monday. He compared the second wave of Covid-19 to a "tsunami", in that it has been "building up more slowly than at the beginning of this year, but all the more destructive, and with the possibility of a longer duration."
His warning is backed up by figures from patient coordination office LCPS, which showed that over the past seven days the total number of Covid-19 patients rose by an average of 6.2 percent per day. At that rate, the Dutch medical system would be caring for more than 4,100 patients by the end of October, and nearly 6,700 patients by the end of the first week in November.
As of Sunday afternoon, including the 247 patients in intensive care, there were 1,233 Covid-19 patients in Dutch hospitals with Covid-19. That is twice as many as on September 27, three times as many as September 21, and five times higher than on September 16.
Van Benthem compared the initial impact of coronavirus in the Netherlands to the disastrous 1953 North Sea floods which killed over 1,800 Dutch people. The Netherlands bounced back from the storm and flood by creating the Delta Works projects, a series of storm surge barriers, sluices and and dams meant to protect the country. Likewise, after the first coronavirus wave, the medical specialists in the Netherlands participated in a "Delta Works for Healthcare", which has led to shorter hospital stays for Covid-19 patients, improved mortality rates, and expanded testing and contact tracing.
"The harsh reality of today is that although our Delta Works should be able to withstand a predicted second storm surge, this COVID-19 wave has assumed the shape of a tsunami," Van Benthem wrote in a column on the FMS website. "In the worst scenarios, with unchanged policy in November, there will be 5,000 people in hospitals. This will lead to a decrease in regular care by more than 70%."
It could take months to recover from this, he said. Everyone in the country must do their part to ensure that things don't get worse, he said. "This means: wash your hands, keep a distance of 1.5 meters, stay at home as much as possible, and wear a mask."
The Dutch association of internists issued a similar warning earlier on Monday, saying that they're worried about the quality of care for chronically ill patients now that most of their attention is dedicated to caring for Covid-19 patients.
The government met with experts at Prime Minister Mark Rutte's residence in The Hague on Sunday, to discuss the situation with the coronavirus and possible further measures. The expectation is that new measures will be announced on Tuesday.
Sources told various Dutch media outlets that a complete lockdown is not yet in the cards, but more restrictions on travel and social contacts are expected.