Coronavirus positive test rate at pre-lockdown levels; Hospitalizations still "very serious"
The percentage of people who were found to be carrying the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in testing over the past seven days fell to 10.7 percent, public health agency RIVM said in a statement. That was the lowest rate reported by the agency since revised figures for the week ending October 6, nine days before the government ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving customers to cut down on new infections.
A week earlier, 11.4 percent of people tested positive. Just before the country went into a lockdown which closed schools and non-essential businesses, 12.1 percent were diagnosed with the viral infection. "However, proportionally more and more people are becoming infected with the more contagious British variant," the RIVM said in reference to the B117 variant.
This put a damper on any enthusiasm for the improving data, as a hundred people infected with the B117 version of the virus were likely to spread the infection to 113 other people last week, though that figure also fell. By comparison, 100 people carrying the less dominant strain of the virus, which had been more prevalent in the Netherlands until New Year's Day, went on to infect 80 others.
A week ago, the agency estimated that about two-thirds of new coronavirus infections were the result of B117. It released a revised model using new data which estimated that figure at 57 percent last week, and 60 percent on Tuesday.
Coronavirus testing nears new 5-month low after winter storm shutdown
For the week ending Tuesday at 10 a.m., the infection rate was calculated from the 195,086 tests completed and processed by municipal health service GGD. That figure was likely to be revised once the GGD accounts for all tests taken last week.
The data still suggests that the lowest number of people self-reported to the GGD for a coronavirus test since mid-September, though the inclement weather over the weekend and into Monday played a role in the reduced testing, the RIVM said.
During a seven-day period which included the temporary closure of several coronavirus testing facilities due to winter storm Darcy, the number of people who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 infection fell by 14 percent to 24,668. The agency raised a warning about the regions of Gooi en Vechtstreek and Fryslân where infections per capita were on the rise, while nearly everywhere else the per capita figures dropped.
Covid hospital admissions down, but not enough to slash lockdown rules
Hospitalizations for Covid-19 also fell by 14 percent, with 1,096 new patients admitted into regular care during the week. Admissions into intensive care fell by a third to 172.
"The risk levels of the safety regions are now also determined by the number of hospital admissions. Based on the number of hospital admissions, all safety regions are still at the "very serious" level of the pandemic," the RIVM said. The Netherlands is divided into 25 different safety regions which may be allowed to loosen up local lockdown measures should hospital admissions and infection rates fall further.
Over the past week the RIVM learned of 408 people with Covid-19 who died as a result of the disease. That represented a nine percent drop compared to the week before.
To date, over 14,500 people have died from Covid-19 in the Netherlands, out of about 1.01 million people who tested positive for the coronavirus infection.