Coronavirus infections in July higher than reported by RIVM dashboard

Coronavirus infections in July higher than reported by RIVM dashboard

The coronavirus dashboard used by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) to publish up-to-date coronavirus figures on deaths, hospitalisations, and infections in the Netherlands, has shown incomplete figures since the start of July, an investigation reveals. 

Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands in July

A calculation method used by the RIVM has resulted in a number of registered infections not being included on the coronavirus dashboard. July saw the dashboard report 1.390 new infections, while in reality 1.654 were reported to the RIVM. There was a similar mistake in the number of hospital admissions reported. 48 patients were admitted to hospital for coronavirus in July, but 20 were registered on the coronavirus dashboard. 

These discrepancies were discovered by Marino van Zelst, a PhD student of organisational sciences at Tilburg University, who believes the errors occur due to how previously incorrect notifications are registered. Mistakes can be made when registering a positive test result if errors are made in the digital form, or because the infected person is registered in two regions and so their positive test is registered twice.

These mistakes are then corrected by the RIVM at a later date, and the corrections are deducted from the number of positive tests that day. For example, on July 14 the GGD reported 97 positive coronavirus tests, but 44 corrections were made on the same day, some for results dating back as far as March, so only 53 infections where registered on the dashboard. Van Zelst says the corrections are not representative of the current situation and so distort the picture. 

RIVM coronavirus dashboard

The last daily coronavirus update published by the RIVM was published on June 30, as the number of deaths reported daily had dropped significantly in June. Therefore, the RIVM decided to change to weekly updates, and for up-to-date daily information, the corona dashboard was used, where all the main data from the outbreak of the virus in the Netherlands is collected and displayed for the general public. 

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said the dashboard was a key tool for defeating the virus, as by bringing all relevant information together it would allow the government, doctors, and health experts to follow the virus as closely as possible, and keep track of any worrying developments and act quickly in response. 

The dashboard would, therefore, be used to signal a move into a second wave of the virus, and the accuracy of the figures reported are key to how quickly steps can be taken on the occasion that infections and deaths rise again. However, if the information included is not accurate, the dashboard would show signs of a second peak later than was accurate. 

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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