Fears of a summer Covid wave; Dutch Health Min. not yet worried
Experts worry that new variants of the Omnicron coronavirus strain becoming dominant in the Netherlands could be the start of a new wave of infections, NOS reports. Minister Ernst Kuipers of Public Health is not yet concerned.
The Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 appear to be rapidly becoming the dominant variants of the coronavirus in the Netherlands, according to the latest figures from the Amsterdam Regional Genomic Epidemiology and Outbreak Surveillance (ARGOS) based on a random sample of positive coronavirus tests done by the GGD. A week ago, these two variants were responsible for 27 percent of infections. Now it is 54 percent - the biggest jump yet.
Matthijs Welkers, a medical microbiologist and one of the researchers at ARGOS, expects this will lead to an increase in coronavirus infections in the Netherlands. “We have seen abroad that with the dominance of these Omnicron variants, the number of people who became infected with the virus increased,” he said to NOS.
The RIVM measurements in Dutch sewage water also show an increase in coronavirus particles. But the public health institute thinks it's too early to say whether the Netherlands is on the verge of another coronavirus wave.
Health Minister Kuipers is also not yet concerned. The number of infections is increasing, and there is “some increase in the number of people who become so ill that they need hospital help,” Kuipers said to ANP. But added that this is “not worrying at the moment.” He said that it’s also happened in the past that infections spike a bit. What is important now is to monitor the situation continuously, he said. “And that is what the RIVM is doing.”
Welkers agreed that it was early to say whether this is a new Covid wave. “At the same time, it could well be that these developments are the start of a summer wave. For me, it is the combination of factors: you see the switch in which the BA.4/BA.5 variant becomes dominant more quickly; we see an increase in the sewage, we see an increase in the number of infections. Take that together, and my conclusion is that the number of infections will continue to rise.”