RIVM: Covid hospital influx at "plateau" but "considerable uncertainties" remain
The influx of Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospitals appears to be leveling off and the number of new coronavirus infections is also stabilizing, Jaap van Dissel said during a briefing to a Parliament committee on Thursday. The RIVM's director for infectious disease also said that the public health agency's projected models show "considerable uncertainties," meaning the peak could also occur later and be higher than currently estimated.
"We seem to have reached a plateau", van Dissel said. Based on internal RIVM projections, Covid-19 patient totals in hospital care could potentially peak in one to two weeks.
The belief that a plateau was reached is what Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge used to justify the Cabinet's decision to release certain lockdown restrictions next week. The ministers announced the decision during a press conference even as the average number of daily coronavirus infections has gone up seven days straight, an average which was 2.4 times what it was on February 11. The Covid-19 hospital patient count was also at its highest since January, with over 820 in intensive care, nearly a one-year high.
That has patient coordination office LCPS concerned. The organization has spent much of the last year shuffling Covid-19 patients from hospital to hospital to maintain some balance in the Netherlands. A spokesperson for the LCPS called the situation "absolutely worrying", and said relaxing some measures is possible, but that the impact could be felt in three or four weeks. “Then we will hopefully no longer be in this tough situation," a spokesperson told ANP.
The LCPS said a "Code Black" situation, where hospitals have to choose between patients for last remaining ICU admissions, is not imminent, but the AZNN disagreed. It monitors acute care in the northern part of the Netherlands and said that if Covid-19 patient admissions continue to rise, some hospitals there may have more intensive care patients than intensive care capacity.
Van Dissel explained that even though the clear evidence of a decrease in the figures is still missing, the RIVM expects that the decline could start soon. That will usher in what the expert described as "a new phase" of battling the coronavirus pandemic.
"The virus is increasingly colliding with people who already had it, or who have received the vaccine. Until now it was the case that a decrease was only caused by stricter measures. Now it is due to the build-up of immunity.", he explained.
According to Van Dissel, the effects of the vaccination campaign are also becoming increasingly visible as figures are now showing that the oldest population hardly contracts the virus anymore.
“Since vaccinations started, we only see a decrease in the number of infections in nursing homes and among elderly people in general. This decrease can be attributed to the vaccination effect”, van Dissel concluded.
"The most important thing now is that everyone gets the first shot as soon as possible," the LCPS spokesperson also said.