Curfew had no significant effect on hospital admissions, says acute care leader
The curfew the government introduced on January 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which was withdrawn on Wednesday, had a limited effect on the number of hospital admissions in recent months, said Ernst Kuipers, the chairman of national acute care network LNAZ. He also said that implementing the curfew was necessary, even if measuring the effects are statistically challenging because it was enforced along with many other measures.
"When the curfew was introduced, the calculation was that it would reduce new infections by 10 percent. If you look at the course of hospital admissions over time, we saw no effect whatsoever with the introduction of the curfew," Kuipers explained on Wednesday evening on the talk show Beau.
Kuipers was a vocal supporter of imposing the curfew back in January, at a time when a more contagious variant of the coronavirus was becoming dominant in the Netherlands. Looking back, he said that curfew was an essential "uncontrolled experiment" that had to be implemented as the country faced the fear that the new strain of the virus discovered in the United Kingdom. At the time, it was unclear how the variant would affect Covid-19 hospitalization figures if the virus was allowed to spread unchecked.
"We had to do something because we knew that new coronavirus variants were coming in and that their spread was faster. We had seen it in England that [the reproduction of the virus] increased by 30 or 40 percent," he said. Kuipers
Top Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans said on social media that viewers need to understand the nuance of what Kuipers was saying. Alongside a graph of intensive care estimates created when the curfew was introduced, she noted that the current ICU figures are in line with the projections that took a mandatory curfew into account. Those projections were also created when there was little knowledge about how a coronavirus mutation that originated in the UK might affect hospital figures.
Nuance: dit werd ingevoerd in de periode dat onder de radar de Britse variant sterk aan het toenemen was. Dit was de gemodelleerde verwachting zonder de maatregelen waar avondklok bij zat (de rode lijn). We zitten op de groene @BeauRTL https://t.co/MtrLM3J0Js pic.twitter.com/Ki5Inv5cJr— Marion Koopmans, virology; emerging infections (@MarionKoopmans) April 29, 2021
A representative of police officers union NPB said in response on WNL Thursday morning that the comments Kuipers made lacked appreciation for the hard work put in by police and street enforcement teams that may have helped prevent further infections.
Activist group Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth), which has been campaigning against the curfew ever since the measure was introduced, was surprised by what Kuipers said. “Amazing. So what does he base such a statement on? But I'm fine with him saying it, it supports our story," said the group’s jurist, Jeroen Pols.