New Dutch record set with over 201,500 coronavirus cases diagnosed in a week
The Netherlands set a new seven-day record for most positive coronavirus tests, according to the weekly report from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The organization registered a total of 201,536 positive tests during the seven-day period ending on Tuesday morning. It far surpassed the previous record, and was the first time since the pandemic started nearly two years ago that the weekly number surpassed 200,000.
The figure means that 1 in every 88 inhabitants learned of their positive diagnosis this past week. This is the the 99th week of the coronavirus crisis in the Netherlands, and Tuesday marked the 80th time that the RIVM published a weekly overview. Last week, the institute reported 113,554 positive tests in the previous seven days. In one week, the number of new infections increased by 77.5 percent. It rose by 139 percent compared to two weeks ago.
The number of new infections exploded among young people, with a doubling of infections reported in those aged 15 to 30. More than three out of every ten new infections was found in someone in their twenties, 62,752 in all. That includes 36,712 infections among people from 20-24 years of age, 167 percent more than a week ago. Infections rose by 170 percent in 15-19 year olds, and 104 percent in 25-29 year olds.
There was a decrease in the number of positive tests found in older populations, which were the first to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot. For example, the number of cases among people in their seventies fell by 13 percent, and by 4 percent among people in their eighties.
Reinfections rising fast, and positive tests could rise further
Of all the people who tested positive for the coronavirus last week, one in eight had been infected before. About 13 percent of the cases from the past week concerned someone who previously tested positive for the coronavirus more than two months earlier.
The percentage is rising rapidly. At the turn of the new year, 8 percent of all positively tested people were classified as a reinfection, and that figure was at 5 percent around Christmas. From the summer through mid-December, it was stable at about 3 percent of weekly infections. It is not clear whether the increase is because people have fewer antibodies left after their previous infection, or because the Omicron variant is able to circumvent the antibodies, the RIVM said.
As the number of positive tests has increased, so too has the basic reproduction number, an indication of how quickly the virus is spreading. That figure stands at 1.26, the highest level since early November, an indicator of the situation two weeks ago when the Omicron variant had just become responsible for more than half of all infections. The reproduction value for just the Omicron variant is 1.63. That means that 100 people contagious with the variant infected an average of 163 others, who in turn transmit that variant of the coronavirus to another 266 people. They then infect 433 others, demonstrating how rapidly the increase in infections is progressing.
Thousands of infections linked to parties, vacations
More than 2,200 people who tested positive contracted the virus after attending a party, and nearly 1,700 people tested positive within two weeks of returning from a trip abroad. Those figures are believed to be a limited view of the bigger picture, as source and contact tracing was limited to just 17 percent of those who tested positive.
Infections were most commonly sourced to another member of the same household, equivalent to more than half of cases which were investigated. Just over a fourth were infected due to visiting another household, or receiving guests from another household.
About 8 percent of all infections happened from attending a party, the highest percentage since the wave of infections in July linked to the reopening of nightclubs. About 6 percent of investigated cases involved someone who traveled out of the country, the most since the end of the summer vacation period.
The branches of the GGD health service have been very busy with testing. Nearly 590,000 people went to a coronavirus test center last week to find out if they were infected, up from about 350,000 each of the previous two weeks. More than 34 percent tested positive, the highest percentage ever reported in the weekly figures from the RIVM.
According to the RIVM, the number of positive tests is increasing in every region of the country.
Covid-19 hospitalizations fall for sixth week
The new wave is not yet visible in hospital statistics. The hospitals admitted 954 Covid-19 patients in the past week because of serious symptoms of the disease. For the first time since the beginning of November, that number has fallen below a thousand in the statistics which originated from intensive care monitor NICE. Of the 954, the organization said that 144 patients ended up in intensive care units, the lowest number since November.
It was the sixth consecutive week that the number of new hospitalizations has declined, according to figures from patient coordination office LCPS. The organization helps maintain a distribution of coronavirus patients in different hospitals across the country to prevent any one particular region from buckling under increased pressure.
Exactly 1,000 patients with Covid-19 were admitted to Dutch hospitals the past seven days, down 10 percent from the pervious week, the LCPS said. That includes 112 patients sent directly to intensive care, down from 152.
The RIVM registered 116 deaths from Covid-19, compared to 189 last week and 445 about a month ago.
Reporting by ANP