500 percent increase in infections, experts say the worst is behind us
While the Netherlands has experienced a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections over the last two weeks, medical experts are confident that the worst has already happened and that the new restrictions will be effective in combating the spread of the virus.
Will there be a fourth coronavirus wave before the autumn?
Tuesday’s report from the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) revealed that the number of new coronavirus infections rose by 500 percent last week - the fastest increase to be recorded since the coronavirus outbreak last spring. The percentage of positive tests rose from 4,5 percent to 13,4 percent, with most cases occurring amongst those aged between 20 and 24.
While these figures may leave many worried that the Netherlands could face a fourth wave before the end of the summer, experts believe that the biggest spike has already happened. "We lost a battle two weeks ago, but I am very hopeful that we will win the war," says Marjolein van Egmond, an immunologist at Amsterdam UMC. She believes the measures announced at the press conference on Friday will go a long way towards reducing the number of cases.
Meanwhile, virologist Louis Kroes told the NRC that society will “have to learn to live” with COVID-19 and all the variants. Kroes emphasises that hospital admissions and deaths remain low, and states that many infections occur among an age group that “runs little risk,” and that people were too quick to worry about the Delta variant. “It sometimes seems that people want to eradicate the virus to the last gasp,” she says. “That is impossible and is not necessary. The virus will remain.”
54 percent of the Netherlands feels restrictions were lifted too early
A study conducted by I&O Research on behalf of the NOS found that 54 percent of people in the Netherlands feel the government was too quick to lift coronavirus restrictions in June. Whereas in June, 47 percent of people felt more restrictions should be lifted, now, 41 percent of survey respondents said they felt new measures should once again be introduced.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) will return from recess to debate the premature lifting of coronavirus restrictions at the end of June and the rapidly rising infection rate. Many MPs are also calling for some rules to be reintroduced. For example, Attje Kuiken from the Labour Party (PvdA) would like to see the Dutch government reinstate the urgent advice to work from home as much as possible, as well as the mandatory face mask rule for overcrowded spaces, such as hospitals.