The 'British' coronavirus: Could stricter measures be on the way?
In the most recent advice published by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), experts expressed concern about the spread of the new, highly contagious coronavirus mutation. Now, their predictions reveal that over half of the coronavirus infections reported in February could be caused by the new mutation - if this happens, the Netherlands could be heading for a third wave in March, with hospital admissions reaching a peak in April.
In the advice published on Sunday, the OMT made it clear to the cabinet that strict measures were necessary in the Netherlands to prevent the mutation from spreading. But does this mean further measures are on the way?
Are more coronavirus measures on the way?
Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his government are already working towards introducing a national curfew - something which the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) feel is a controversial and risky idea, questioning whether it would even be effective, or if there are other, less radical alternatives which should be considered.
The cabinet is also said to be discussing implementing travel restrictions, for example limiting the distance a person can travel from their home, reducing the maximum number of household guests allowed per day from two to one, or introducing a complete ban on home visits. Some sources in The Hague are saying a press conference will be held on January 20 and that new measures will be announced.
Political parties are worried about whether or not these measures could realistically be enforced, while D66, GroenLinks, the Socialist Party (SP), and the Labour Party (PvdA) have also highlighted the fact that existing measures - asking the public to work from home and not travel internationally, for example - are not always adhered to. So, if new measures were to be introduced, would they be followed? A recent survey conducted by DVJ Insights found that 92 percent of respondents would comply with a curfew, and 81 percent said that, if a complete ban on home visits was introduced, they would adhere to it.
Why isn’t vaccination helping (yet)?
As of January 15, over 55.000 people in the Netherlands have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. This week, the GGD has also started vaccinating care home residents, GPs, and people with an intellectual disability residing in an institution. With this in mind, how is it possible that the situation in the Netherlands could worsen over the coming weeks and months?
According to Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC), said the vaccine and its impact is yet to be included in any projection models, and that only once the four million vulnerable people in the Netherlands have been immunised can measures be relaxed.
The impact of the vaccinations are yet to be felt in the Netherlands, and it will likely take another two months before a change is noticeable. In Israel, for example, where a quarter of the population has already been immunised, the country is only just starting to see results.