Delta variant rapidly advancing in Netherlands; Possibly caused 50% of infections
The Delta variant of the coronavirus has likely caused about half of new coronavirus infections in the Netherlands, public health agency RIVM said on Friday in an update on germ surveillance, according to broadcaster NOS.
The variant is up to 64 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was most prevalent in the Netherlands since the end of 2020. That has prompted many concerns about a fourth wave of infections towards the end of the summer holiday period.
Germ surveillance data released by the agency Friday afternoon showed that the variant was found in 17 percent of the 348 samples analyzed during the 24th week of the year, which ended on June 20. A week earlier, that figure was nine percent, and before that it was 3.5 percent.
The highly-contagious Delta variant is quickly displacing the Alpha variant. During week 24, the Alpha variant was found in 76 percent of samples, and it was at 88 percent the week before that.
The rapid spread has prompted some countries to re-introduce coronavirus restrictions. South Africa has brought back curfews, closed schools, and banned groups of people from gathering. Australia brought back travel restrictions, with Sydney and Perth back in lockdown. The United Kingdom delayed releasing lockdown measures due to the increase in infections there.
The Netherlands just released most remaining lockdown restrictions last weekend. Days before, as the Delta variant was becoming more visible in the Rotterdam region, virologist Marion Koopmans from the Erasmus Medical Center said it would likely be dominant in early July. The RIVM said by mid-July the Delta variant would be most common in the Netherlands.
"That is roughly in line with expectations," the RIVM said regarding the current advance of the Delta variant.