36 Omicron cases found in NL as many hospitals scrap all planned procedures
A total of 36 cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been diagnosed in the Netherlands, up from 20 on Saturday. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said that Omicron may become "the dominant variant in the Netherlands." That is currently still the Delta variant, which accounts for just under 100 percent of all positive tests in the country.
Forty-one Dutch hospitals, almost six in ten, can no longer provide scheduled care. Last week, there were still 25, reported the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa). This concerns non-critical treatments like knee, hip, and cataract surgery.
Hospitals are scaling down regular care to ensure they can continue to provide acute and semi-cute treatments. This is care that must be provided within 24 hours to prevent health damage. Due to staff shortages and many coronavirus patients in hospitals, the healthcare system is under extreme pressure. "Even now that the number of coronavirus hospital admissions is falling slightly, it is still necessary that all scheduled care is scaled down to create sufficient ICU and nursing capacity and to reduce the pressure on follow-up care," according to the NZa.
According to the NZa, 41 percent fewer operating rooms are currently in use than usual. A week earlier, this was 36 percent. In addition, 21 of the 73 hospitals indicate that they cannot, or not always, provide critical scheduled care on time. This is care that must happen within six weeks to prevent health damage. Last week there were 19.
The Omicron variant had already been found in 18 people who arrived by plane on November 26 from South Africa, the country where the new variant was first identified. People who fly to the Netherlands from southern Africa can have themselves tested after arrival at Schiphol, but they can also do this later at a GGD test location. Fourteen Omicron infections have been identified so far in this group of people.
The RIVM is also examining some older test samples. Four Omicron cases were found in this way.
People who were in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the Omicron variant should also get tested. The RIVM is examining those test samples, but no Omicron cases have been found here yet. The Omicron variant is not yet present in sewage samples either.
Reporting by ANP