Netherlands records 3 millionth positive Covid test, including 95,000 last week
The Netherlands registered its three millionth positive coronavirus test this week, meaning the country has recorded a million new infections in just 83 days. The counter stood at 3,001,461, including about half a million people who were diagnosed in November, and 360,000 who tested positive so far this month.
The Netherlands reached the two million mark on September 29, and the one millionth infection was uncovered on February 6. The country started widely testing people on June 1, 2020, which led to the diagnosis of the 500,000th infection almost six months later. The first positive infection was found in February 2020.
A sharp rise in infections that led to the three millionth case was brought on by a combination of the Delta variant and lax restrictions which were progressively tightened during the past two months. That includes an evening lockdown, first implemented at the end of November, and the introduction of a full lockdown this past weekend.
A total of 94,864 people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus during the seven-day period ending Tuesday morning. It was the lowest weekly total since November 9. Figures from this past week were about 19 percent lower compared to the week before.
The decrease is no cause for immediate celebration, the RIVM stated. “The Omicron variant is expected to become the dominant coronavirus variant in the Netherlands before the turn of the year. Because the rapid spread of this variant will lead to more infections in the coming weeks, the number of hospital admissions will also increase again. An increase that may well exceed the healthcare capacity.”
There was a drop in the number of infections found in all age groups, the RIVM said in a statement. “The number of reports per 100,000 is still highest among children of primary school age.” About 544 infections were found per capita in the Netherlands. The region of Zuid-Holland-Zuid had the most, with 649 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Twente had the lowest, with 436.
Testing also dropped off sharply. There were 16 percent fewer tests carried out by the GGD health services, with 380,533 completed in the past seven days. Two weeks ago, that figure topped 620,000. With self-tests being used more frequently, more people are contacting the GGD to confirm a positive test they determined at home. This likely impacted the positivity rate, which climbed to 23.9 percent, a record for a weekly report from the RIVM. At one point over the weekend, that figure rose to 24.1 percent when averaged across seven days.
The RIVM said that the basic reproduction (R) number measured on December 6 was approximately 0.88. That indicates that 100 people contagious with the coronavirus infected 88 others. They in turn spread the virus to 77 people, who passed it on to another 68.
“The reproduction number is expected to rise again in the coming weeks with the spread of the Omicron variant,” the RIVM cautioned.
There was also a measurable fall in the number of hospitalizations due to Covid-19. Preliminary figures from Stichting NICE showed that 1,335 were hospitalized over the past seven days, down from 1,986, the corrected figure for a week earlier. An estimated 248 were sent to intensive care units, down from 338.
Figures from patient coordination office showed more Covid-19 hospitalizations overall, but a similar rate of decline. The organization reported 1,532 hospitalizations the past week, including 211 sent directly to an intensive care unit. That was 28 percent lower than the previous week, when 2,115 were admitted into care, including 281 sent to an ICU.
The number of deaths caused by Covid-19 also dropped by more than a fourth. The RIVM said it learned of 322 deaths caused by the coronavirus disease, compared to 445 a week earlier.