Health Ministry thought Covid was less deadly than flu in February
At the end of February, the Dutch Ministry of Public Health and public health institute RIVM still thought that the coronavirus was less deadly than the flu, RTL Nieuws reports based on documents from the Ministry of Justice and Security's interdepartmental crisis management committee ICCb, which the broadcaster obtained through the Government Information (Public Access) Act.
On February 26, the ICCb wrote that the flu mortality is higher than that of Covid-19. Two days later, the committee wrote that the coronavirus is very similar to the flu virus, and added that Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu after all. "The death rate for the entire Covid-19 outbreak is now about 2 percent. That's higher than the 0.5 to 1 percent death rate associated with the common flu."
But the officials added that "a significant proportion of patients with mild symptoms are not tested" and therefore do not appear in the statistics. "The mortality rate may be lower in practice."
The documents show that the Ministries attempted to prevent "major unrest because of the virus", and that officials were concerned by the rapid spread of the virus and the fact that the population had no resistance to it. "As a result, many people may get sick at the same time." The pressure on healthcare resulting from that was considered the greatest threat to Dutch safety at the time.
Despite this, the Ministry's communication at end February was that "people who have a cold or lung symptoms in the Netherlands" do not have to worry that they have contracted the coronavirus. "At the moment it has not yet been diagnosed here. The chance is much higher that people just have the flu or another cold virus."
The first official Covid-19 diagnosis in the Netherlands was on February 27.