Covid infections still falling, but B117 strain gaining ground
The number coronavirus infections in the Netherlands is still falling, but much more slowly than in previous weeks, public health institute RIVM said in its weekly update on Tuesday. This is due to the more contagious B117 strain of the virus gaining ground in the Netherlands. About a third of last week's positive tests involved this strain first identified in the United Kingdom, compared to around 10 percent the week before, the RIVM said.
Over the past week, from January 20 to 26, a total of 35,635 positive coronavirus tests were reported to the RIVM. That is 8 percent less than the week before. The decrease in positive tests in the week January 13 to 19 compared to the week before that was 21.5 percent.
"With the advance of the British variant, we are dealing with two virus variants spreading at different speeds in the Netherlands. As a result, there are actually two separate corona epidemics," the RIVM said. The number of infections with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain is decreasing. But the number of B117 infections is increasing.
The new coronavirus strain first identified in South Africa has now been diagnosed 14 times in the Netherlands. According to the RIVM, all 14 these patients either traveled to South Africa or had contact wit someone who did.
The new coronavirus strains seem to be even more contagious than the original one and they are therefore expected to result in a spike in hospital admissions and deaths over time. The government introduced extra coronavirus measures last week to try and prevent this, but the effect of these measures will only start to become visible in the coming two weeks, the RIVM said.
Over the past week, a total of 1,264 people were admitted to hospital with coronavirus infections, including 241 admissions to intensive care, compared to 1,446 and 255 the week before respectively. The RIVM received reports of 512 people dying of the virus this past week, compared to 608 the week before.