Significant relaxation of hard lockdown unlikely next week: Outbreak team member
There is no clear evidence to support significantly relaxing the coronavirus measures in the Netherlands next week, said infectious disease expert and Outbreak Management Team (OMT) member Marc Bonten on Nieuwsuur. Due to the Omicron variant, caution is still required, and people should "not hold out too much hope" that all lockdown measures will expire, he said.
The current lockdown put in place on December 18 is scheduled to expire at the end of January 14. The OMT will meet again this coming Friday to advise the Cabinet. Partly on the basis of that advice, the Cabinet will make a decision the following week about a possible extension of the current lockdown measures.
Bonten did not speculate if the OMT will conclude that the lockdown measures are still necessary. However, he did say that there is no obvious reason to relax the measures. “If there is space to ease them, I think the OMT will say, ‘Do it in small steps, and observe what happens.’”
Bonten said he hopes scientists can share even more information about the Omicron variant of the coronavirusvirus in the coming days. While it is clear that this variant is more contagious, early studies suggested it may make a lower percentage of people seriously ill.
Coronavirus infections are back on the rise in the Netherlands, with the seven-day average up by 23 percent in a week to nearly 15,000. It is not yet known to what extent people infected with the Omicron variant can overload the healthcare system, even if a lower overall percentage of them will require hospital care.
Reporting by ANP