Advancing Delta variant could mean new measures
While the majority of Netherlands residents are at least partially vaccinated, it will take weeks before they have optimal protection against Covid-19. And with the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant gaining ground in the country, new measures cannot be ruled out, Frits Roosendaal, professor of clinical epidemiology at LUMC, said to RTL Nieuws.
"We enthusiastically brought in the Delta variant," Roosendaal said, referring to young people coming back from their final exam vacations in Southern Europe with the coronavirus. "If you hear that, for example, 95 students have returned from Portugal with corona, and a number of them have been shown to have contracted the contagious Delta variant. Then you know: things will go fast."
After a long time of decreasing coronavirus figures and two weeks' of less than a thousand daily infections, public health institute RIVM reported over 1,500 infections on Monday.
And clusters of infections are popping up in various places in the Netherlands. 180 people tested positive after going to a nightclub in Enschede on June 26, for example. 50 students of Hotelschool The Hague tested positive after a student association party. And Groningen student association RKSV Albertus Magnus reported that six students tested positive after a party on Wednesday.
"The fact that the number of daily new corona infections is increasing rapidly is something to worry about," Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said to RTL Nieuws. The cabinet is keeping an eye on the situation and will intervene quickly if things get out of hand, he said. "The crisis cabinet continues to meet twice a week."
According to Roosendaal, these new infections are worrisome, but not as bad as a year ago. "Then we also got that big wave in the autumn. But now we are further in terms of protection through vaccination." Almost 75 percent of adults in the Netherlands have had at least one shot against Covid-19, and 44 percent are fully vaccinated.
He stressed, however, that the Netherlands is still far from fully protected. Optimal protection is only achieved two to four weeks after your second vaccine dose. "And the number of people who have already reached this stage is not that large yet. The forty-somethings will receive their second shot in the coming period, but still have to wait a few more weeks for optimal protection."
Like ICU expert Diederik Gommers, Roosendaal doesn't expect that the Netherlands will go back into lockdown as the Delta variant spreads through the country. But some new measures may have to be implemented. "Think in particular of intervening in nightlife and the sale of alcohol. Such measures are looming," he said to the broadcaster.