Covid infections rise 24% to nearly 5,000; Hospital total at lowest point in 5 weeks
A day after the number of new coronavirus infections fell to its lowest point since early October, the total reported by public health agency RIVM on Wednesday swung back up to 4,947. That was an increase of 24 percent in a day, and seven percent more than a week ago.
It brought the seven-day average up slightly to 5,334. Since Monday, some 14,140 people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, about 2.5 percent more than the same period last week.
The rising infections witnessed over the past week was enough to pour water on the possibility of the Netherlands emerging from its partial lockdown within the next six weeks, suggested Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. He said on Tuesday there was a very real chance that the stricter social restrictions, including the shutdown of bars, cafes and restaurants, would continue beyond mid-January, a point which angered the lobbying organization representing the hospitality sector.
De Jonge said last week he wanted to see signs the country was headed towards 1,200 infections per day, and said he was also entertaining the idea of extending the winter vacation period of schools. Data from the RIVM released on Tuesday showed that children under 18 were the only age group with an increase in coronavirus infections.
The daily report released Wednesday by the RIVM showed that Amsterdam (282), Rotterdam (267) and The Hague (151) were again the three cities with the most new infections. Both Amsterdam (12%) and The Hague (145%) showed increases compared to a week earlier, while Rotterdam posted a four-percent drop.
Meanwhile, the situation in the hospital system showed a significant sign of improvement with the total number of Covid-19 patients decreasing by 86 to 1,839. That total was down 12 percent compared to a week ago, and dipped to the lowest figure since October 19. The continued decline suggested a trend that could lead to about 1,650 total admitted Covid-19 patients at the start of next month, an analysis of data from patient coordination office LCPS showed.
Wednesday's hospital total included 529 intensive care patients, an increase of three, and 1,310 people in regular care, a decrease of 89. The net decline was the largest in over two weeks, with only about 150 more patients hospitalized in regular care during the preceding 24 hours.
At the same time, intensive care units admitted 39 more patients with the coronavirus disease, well above the seven-day average. It was nearly quadruple the amount that both De Jonge and acute care expert Ernst Kuipers said was acceptable for loosening restrictions in the country.
To date, 498,653 people have tested positive for the coronavirus infection, the RIVM said. Hospitals have treated 24,317 Covid-19 patients in regular care, and 5,380 in intensive care, according to nonprofit organization NICE. A total of 9,109 people with the coronavirus disease have died from it, including 4,714 hospital patients.