Dutch coronavirus infections down sharply this week, but Delta variant on the horizon
There was a 26 percent fall in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus this past week. Some 4,208 were diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 infection for the seven-day period ending at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
That was 1,506 lower than the previous week’s total. It brought the known infections down to 25 per 100 thousand residents.
More parts of the Netherlands, or the entire country, will be categorized at the green level of risk by the European Union if that per capita figure remains the same or improves. Only two provinces, Friesland and Groningen, are at the EU’s lowest risk level for coronavirus infections, with the rest of the country at the orange level. The other levels are red and dark red.
A potential cause for concern is that the number of people who reported to the GGD for a coronavirus test last week fell again to 125,887. The figure has been declining for months, now dipping down towards levels reached in mid-August while many people were still on holiday.
Increased testing will be critical for staving off the Delta variant of the coronavirus infection, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. Everyone who returns to the Netherlands from a risk area should be tested when they arrive, a spokesperson told Dagblad van het Noorden.
The ministry is considering giving out self-testing kits to people at Schiphol Airport. One concern is that people going to resorts abroad, especially younger people, will come into close contact with others who have arrived from areas at higher risk for the Delta variant, which is far more infections than the Alpha variant common t the Netherlands.
The ministry is hoping to learn from last year’s mistakes, which saw consistent growing infection figures after the summer holiday through October, resulting in a partial lockdown. That lockdown was extended in December.
One solution under consideration by the Cabinet is to offer on-site testing at the airport at least during the summer. This past week, 400 of those who tested positive for the virus had been in another country within two weeks of the diagnosis. Spain (139) was the most common destination, followed by Portugal (71) and Germany (22).
Acute care leader Ernst Kuipers said on Tuesday it was only a question of time when the Delta variant would become dominant in the Netherlands, he said to interviewer Humberto Tan on television Monday night. He was not critical of the Netherlands casting aside lockdown restrictions last weekend, when discussing a Labour Party MP’s opinion that the country tried to do too much, too soon, like last year.
Kuipers said, “Use common sense. The last thing we want is to follow examples like Israel or Australia. That we feel free for a few weeks. And then the new measures will start in August.”
The variant was already advancing in Amsterdam and Rotterdam earlier this month. Representatives of different GGD regions told De Stentor that it was found 14 times in Noord en Oost Gelderland, four involving people who had just returned from Spain.
Small numbers of Delta variant infections were also found in Flevoland and IJsselland. “Don’t forget that we also have five million unvaccinated people, [including] children and those who refuse,” said Ashis Brahma, a GGD physician. “That is a big pool for Delta to travel in.”
The basic reproduction of the virus fell slighty this past week, with 100 contagious people infecting 76 others, the RIVM said. There were about 17,207 people contagious with the coronavirus infection at the start of the week.
Hospitalizations for Covid-19 fell by 54 percent to 82, according to data from hospital monitor NICE. It said 17 of those admissions went straight into intensive care, down from 33 a week earlier.
To date, about 12,840 Covid-19 patients have been treated in intensive care, with 28 percent dying from the disease. About 57,851 patients were treated in regular care, with a survival rate of about 87 percent.
People in the Netherlands have tested positive for the infection 1,684,366 times.