Dutch virologist warns against total relaxation of coronavirus measures
Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans has warned that the Netherlands is not yet out of the woods when it comes to the coronavirus, and said that caution still needs to be exercised. Speaking to NPO Radio 1 she said she doubts that the situation with the virus is at a point which justifies the “full relaxation of measures.”
Measures like working from home and wearing face masks should continue to be encouraged, she said. “It seems we have had the worst of it, but there are really a lot of hospital admissions, especially among vulnerable groups and people who have not been vaccinated.” Koopmans is wary of the Cabinet eliminating nearly all measures now because “if something is needed in the autumn, it will be difficult to reintroduce it.”
For Koopmans, the Cabinet is rushing towards removing all measures and maybe not fully taking into account vulnerable groups. “You have to take the step towards scaling down somewhere. Denmark has done that, Great Britain has done that, but you see a lot of hospital admission there too. You should not trivialize that.”
Diederick Gommers joined her for the podcast. The intensive care expert said the result of releasing too many restrictions too fast is that medically vulnerable people who are unable to get vaccinated may have to live a sheltered life at home if society no longer steps up for them.
The Cabinet is expected to reduce, but not eliminate work-from-home advice. Currently, everyone who is able to work from home is advised to do so as much as possible. That is expected to change later this week, with workers advised to work from home at least half of their work hours.
Keeping measures like working from home shouldn’t be too difficult because many people have grown to like this new way of working, she said. “This is a measure that is relatively simple, which is supported and which is effective.” She had a similar approach to face masks because “it is now so well established among people: when it is very busy, you put on a face mask. Why not?”
Living with coronavirus in the future was also discussed on the podcast. Koopmans emphasized how crucial it will be to work out how to treat new coronavirus variants. Comparing coronavirus vaccination with annual flu vaccinations, she said that the first vaccination is always most effective. The challenge will come as we try to figure out how to keep an effective treatment plan in place with new variants emerging all the time.