Nearly 243,000 coronavirus cases last week; 13% drop among those in their twenties
The past seven days marked a new peak for the coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands. Some 242,961 positive tests for the infection were recorded since the last official weekly statistical update by the RIVM. That is the highest weekly figure ever, set during the hundredth week of the coronavirus crisis.
The RIVM registered 20 percent more positive tests than in the previous week, when about 201,000 people tested positive. That was the first time the weekly figure crossed the 200,000 mark.
The new Cabinet decided to relax coronavirus restrictions last week. As a result, the number of positive coronavirus tests will likely continue to rise sharply in the coming weeks, according to the RIVM. At the press conference announcing the new policy on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the number of positive tests could rise to between 75,000 and 80,000 per day, more than double the number of infections reported this past week.
A significant decrease of the basic reproduction (R) value was also modeled. It stands at 1.16, down from 1.26 a week earlier as measured as a weighted average of all coronavirus variants. That means 100 people contagious with the virus infected 116 others, who then passed the coronavirus on to another 135 people.
The R number for just the Omicron variant fell suddenly from from 1.63 to 1.25. The figure shows how quickly the virus was spreading on January 3, as it takes two weeks to establish an accurate estimate.
"Many people have had themselves tested around Christmas and New Years. At the beginning of January we saw a decrease in the number of tests. We think that the decrease in the reproduction number has something to do with it. It is impossible to know what the figure would be right now."
Infections fall among 20-29 year olds, but rise quickly in children and teens
While the number of positive coronavirus tests throughout the Netherlands is still increasing sharply, the number of cases among people in their twenties is falling. A week earlier, the largest increase was seen in this age group.
In the past seven days, the RIVM registered 54,511 positive tests among people aged 20 to 29 years. That is 13 percent less than a week earlier.
The current decrease may be one result of the prior rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases among people in their twenties. "The virus has circulated on a large scale in this age group in recent weeks. The group that is currently still susceptible may have become smaller as a result," said Aura Times, the head of infectious disease control at the RIVM, in a first reaction. She spoke of a trend-breaking moment, which may be examined further after another week of data is collected.
However, in younger children, a sharp increase was observed in the initial period after primary and secondary schools were reopened. For example, 19,498 children under 10 tested positive, compared to 8,636 a week earlier. That's an increase of 125 percent. Among teenagers, the number of coronavirus cases increased by almost 54 percent.
Fewer than 35,000 coronavirus infections were investigated by source and contact tracing teams last week. It means that the source of the infection was found in only one out of every seven cases, the lowest number ever. When the researchers do succeed, the infections are often traced back to the schools.
The origin of an infection not found 85.7 percent of the time. Of those which were traced, 11.2 percent originated at a school or childcare, the highest level since the week before the Christmas holidays. The workplace also led to more infections than during the Christmas holidays. About 5 percent of the investigated cases were traced to this. Still, most people contracted the coronavirus through a family member or roommate, or through a visit to another household.
Hospitalizations fall for sixth week
The number of hospital admissions and deaths caused by Covid-19 has continued to fall for the sixth week in a row. In the past week, some 647 Covid-19 patients had symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization, 94 of whom were placed in intensive care. Those are the lowest numbers since the second half of October, according to the RIVM, which refers to data from intensive care monitor NICE. A week ago, corrected data from NICE showed 940 hospitalizations, including 146 sent to intensive care.
According to figures from patient coordination service LCPS, hospitals in the Netherlands admitted 780 patients with Covid-19 this past week, a 22 percent decrease compared to the 1,000 admitted the week before. The organization said that 79 people were sent directly to an intensive care unit, down from 112 the previous week.
The data from the LCPS showed that hospitalizations were at their lowest point since the third week of October, and ICU admissions were at their lowest level since the first full week of that month.
In recent days, the RIVM learned of 63 people who died as a result of Covid-19. That is almost half the 116 deaths registered a week earlier. That figure has fallen for the fifth week in a row.
Reporting by ANP.