RIVM: Number of new coronavirus infections flattening out at an all-time high level
The current wave of coronavirus infections appears to have reached a peak for the time being, concluded the RIVM in its weekly report about the state of the pandemic in the Netherlands. The organization’s researchers believe the number of new infections is now leveling off after five weeks in which infection totals set new records on a consistent basis.
Corrected figures from the agency show that 608,529 people tested positive for the coronavirus during the past seven days, or an average of about 86,933 per day. That set a new record for the Netherlands. Per capita, roughly 3,399 people tested positive out of every 100,000 residents. That was more than the previous week by less than 1/100th of a percent.
In recent weeks, the institute has struggled with a large backlog of positive tests that could not yet be registered because the computer systems could not handle the high numbers. That backlog has now been eliminated. Nearly 395,000 positive tests were recorded between Monday morning and Tuesday morning, including 317,184 positive tests taken after January 18 which had not yet been entered into the RIVM’s database. With the backlog, the RIVM learned of 824,304 positive coronavirus tests last week.
Clearing the backlog has given RIVM a better overview of the coronavirus wave. Since the last week of January, the number of positive tests has consistently fluctuated between 75,000 and 100,000.
Those tested by the GGD health services received a positive diagnosis 60.7 percent of the time last week, the highest figure ever shown in a weekly wrap-up from the RIVM. The number of tests carried out by the GGD last week remained high at 977,564, down four percent compared to the previous week.
Over 216,000 of the infections that were actually diagnosed last week were found in people 19 years of age or younger, with those from 10-19 representing the most infections per capita. Nearly 8,900 people aged 10-14 tested positive out of every 100,000 people in their age group. About 7,250 infections per capita were found among those 15-19.
Infection rates were also high among people aged 35-44, who averaged over 5,050 infections per capita. Figures were similarly high for those in their twenties and early thirties. Rates of infection were very low in the population aged 70 and up.
The basic reproduction (R) number was 1.11 on January 24, the RIVM determined after reviewing the data from the last two weeks. That was down from 1.20 on January 17. It means that 100 people contagious with the coronavirus recently infected 111 others. They then spread the virus to 123 more people, who passed it on to an additional 137.
Very few source and contact investigations were carried out last week. The GGD determined the source of infection in just 15,848 people. On average, the agency conducted twice as many investigations during the previous eight weeks. As such, their results have skewed to show a higher percentage of infections occurring within households, schools & daycares, and during household visits.
Hospitalizations on the rise with 7-11 percent more Covid admissions
The number of hospital admissions is also on the rise. Last week, 1,266 people with serious symptoms of Covid-19 ended up in hospital care, 7 percent more than the week before. This includes 118 people who were admitted to intensive care, which itself showed an increase of 42 percent. In the past, these figures from the RIVM have been preliminary, and tend to be revised upwards.
The service which organizes the placement of all Covid-19 patients in the Netherlands, LCPS, presented different figures about the hospitalizations the past seven days. The organization showed an 11 percent increase in admissions to 1,335. That included a rise in regular care admissions, from 1,105 to 1,227, and more ICU admissions, from 93 to 108.
The method the LCPS uses is to count all hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, because that is a more accurate indicator of the stress the situation puts on hospitals. Medical centers isolate patients infected with the virus, which puts heavier demands on staffing. The RIVM uses data from intensive care monitor NICE, which counts only those patients suffering from serious symptoms of Covid-19.
The RIVM learned of 54 deaths caused by Covid-19 last week, down from 66 the previous week. However, there is no obligation to report the deaths to the institute, and such reports can come days or even weeks after the person passed away.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.