Outbreak team advises Covid self-tests for young kids
The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) thinks it is good to have primary school pupils from Group 1 regularly do a Covid-19 self-test under supervision. Pupils from Group 6 started doing that this week. However, the Cabinet does not want to expand the testing policy for the time being, caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wrote to parliament. It seems practically impossible to him.
The OMT met on Friday to discuss the fight against the coronavirus. A new advisory report examines, among other things, the new Omicron variant of the virus. The team of experts can say not much about it yet. The same applies to the effectiveness of the measures that came into effect last week. The OMT wants to wait another week to see whether there is a decrease in infections and hospital admissions. Until then, no additional measures are advised.
The Minister's advisers expect that last week's measures, including the 5:00 p.m. closure of shops and catering establishments, should be reflected in the figures from this week. The effect will only become visible later in hospitals because it takes a while before people become seriously ill. Models show the peak of 650 to 800 coronavirus patients in intensive care units will be reached within a "few weeks."
The OMT had advised the Cabinet to consider extending the Christmas holidays by a week to reduce the number of infections at schools. The risk is that parents will then take children to childcare because they have to work, wrote De Jonge. Then the measure would not help.
Concerning the testing of primary school pupils from Group 1 onwards, the Minister mainly sees practical problems. "It involves huge numbers of tests, which have to be ordered and for which things have to be organized logistically." For that reason, he thinks it cannot be arranged in the short term.
On December 14, the Cabinet will once again review all measures. It must then be clear to what extent the measures taken have helped. The Cabinet will also review the measures for schools. De Jonge does not rule out the possibility that tests will become available for children from Group 1 at a later stage.
Reporting by ANP