Serious concerns about UK Covid variant; Immediate measures advised
The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) is seriously concerned about the B117 strain of the coronavirus spreading in the Netherlands, it said in its most recent advice to the government. According to the team of experts, it is important to take measures now to contain the spread of the virus and its new mutations, NOS reports.
What measures the OMT wants to take was not revealed in the advice. But the experts did say that measures are necessary "until we can expect a favorable seasonal effect on the spread, and an effect of herd immunity from past infections and vaccinations."
According to the OMT, the reproduction of the original strain of the coronavirus was just below 1 at the start of this year, which means that the epidemic was slowly but surely dying out. But the reproduction number of the B117 strain, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is 30 percent higher and above 1. Which means that this strain is still spreading in the Netherlands.
The OMT estimates that about 10 percent of current coronavirus infections in the country are the B117 strain. This could increase to 50 percent in the course of next month, the experts warned. If that happens, coronavirus infections and hospitalizations will rise again in March, and from April there will again be a great deal of pressure on the healthcare system.
"For this reason, it is no longer possible to make a certain prediction on when the numbers of hospital and ICU admissions will return to the level appropriate for the 'vigilant' risk level," OMT chairman Jaap van Dissel said in a letter to parliament. The risk level in the Netherlands is currently "very serious". In its previous advice last week, the OMT said that this could be reduced to "vigilant" in late February or early March.