Covid measures should only be relaxed in January, epidemiologist says
At the current rate at which the number of Covid-19 infections in the Netherlands is falling, it will only be wise to relax the coronavirus measures in early to mid-January, Susan van den Hof, epidemiologist at public health institute RIVM said to NU.nl. On Tuesday the government relaxed a few measures, putting the Netherlands back in the partial lockdown implemented in mid-October. A full list of measures in place can be found her.
According to Van den Hof, a relaxation of measures can only be considered when the number of daily infections is at 7 per 100 thousand residents. "Then the chance that you will encounter someone with corona is small enough that you can allow a little more without ending up in a third wave," she said to the newspaper. Currently, nearly 25 out of 100 thousand residents have the coronavirus.
If you relax measures earlier, "You may very quickly end up in a third wave," Van der Hof said. "Then you have to take extra measures and you want to prevent it from becoming a yo-yo effect." She stressed that the relaxation or tightening of measures is not up to her or the RIVM, but to the cabinet.
Van den Hof expects that the relaxation of measures will look different this time around than it did in the spring. "In the winter it is more difficult to implement many relaxations, because hospitals are already dealing with other infections, which means that more hospital and ICU beds are occupied," she said. "The challenge is to have a package of measures that can be sustained by people and that keeps the number of infections constant or decreasing. That way you don't have to scale measures up and down all the time. I think it is easier to maintain when it is clear to everyone: this is going to be it for a while."
The number of new coronavirus cases decreased for the third week in a row last week, the RIVM said on Tuesday. Last week positive tests fell by 14 percent. The week before there was a 32 percent decrease. This is in line with the RIVM's predictions, Van den Hof said.
Infections decreased faster in the first wave, but the RIVM is not surprised that it is going slower this time. "Society is a bit more open than it was during the first wave. Then the schools closed and the hair salons were also closed. Now everything is continuing a bit more than then. That means the decline is slower," she said to the newspaper.