Thousands of tourists diagnosed with Covid last week; 1,000 visited Austria
Winter sports holidays have made Austria the primary international destination where residents of the Netherlands contracted the coronavirus. Figures from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) show that 964 people who tested positive last week visited the Alpine country within 14 days of their trip. That equals 15.8 percent of all infections that were traced to another country between December 27 and January 3, or roughly 6,100 in total. That figure was likely much lower than the real total due to contact tracing limitations, the RIVM said.
France, also a popular ski and snowboard destination, follows in second place with 740 confirmed cases. In third is Belgium, which 682 people had visited before they were later found to be infected. That was followed by Germany (669 cases) and Spain (605 cases). Some 339 infected people also visited Italy in the last fourteen days, according to the figures, which were first reported by AD.
Austria recently introduced strict entry rules for Netherlands residents. Anyone who has not yet received a booster shot must be quarantined for at least five days, which makes a winter sports holiday practically impossible. Many people in the Netherlands hastily departed for their holiday destination before the Austrian quarantine obligation came into effect. Some even went to get a booster jab just over the border in Germany, so they would not have to wait for their turn to come up in the Netherlands, just to be able to hit the slopes without any problems.
The United Kingdom, which is the only one of the most-frequently visited countries that has long been regarded by the government as a “very high-risk area” due to coronavirus, is in the middle of the list with 256 returning tourists having tested positive in the Netherlands. The United States is at roughly the same level.
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The RIVM called the figures "underestimations of the actual numbers and percentages.” Due to the high number of infections, the GGD health service branches do not always successfully conduct source and contact investigations after someone tested positive. In many cases, it is never established where someone likely contracted the virus. Of all the people who tested positive last week, at least 5.9 percent traveled abroad recently.
The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) also notes in its latest advice "a large increase in reports of positively tested persons who have recently traveled to the Netherlands from abroad.” The experts who advise the Cabinet on the fight against coronavirus expect this number to increase further in the coming weeks and months.
Everyone who comes to the Netherlands from abroad should take a self-test immediately after arrival, and repeat this after five days, the OMT said.
Reporting by ANP.