Coronavirus infections on the rise again, hospitalisations remain low
The final national lockdown restrictions lifted a little over a week ago, and while more and more people continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Netherlands is once again experiencing a rise in the number of coronavirus infections. However, the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) reports that the number of patients being treated in Dutch hospitals continues to fall.
Number of coronavirus patients in Dutch hospitals falls
Since the relaxations came into effect on June 26, the Netherlands has seen the number of coronavirus cases rise by 14 percent. On Sunday, the RIVM reported 1.239 positive coronavirus tests, a nine percent increase compared to Saturday.
Amsterdam sees the most new infections (165), followed by Rotterdam (63) and Groningen (62). July 3 also marked the first time in over two weeks that the number of new daily infections rose to above 1.000. At the same time, over the weekend, the number of coronavirus patients being treated in intensive care fell to below 100 for the first time since September 22.
According to virologist Marion Koopmans, nearly half of the new infections have been identified as the Delta variant. However, Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care, does not believe that the Netherlands will experience another lockdown in the autumn as a result of the new, highly contagious variant. “At the moment, we do not expect the hospitals to overflow...we can keep it in check,” Gommers told BNR on Monday morning.
Nightclubs and parties lead to peak in 20 to 29 year olds
Most of the coronavirus cases reported by the RIVM on a daily basis appear to occur among young people, aged between 20 and 29 - not particularly surprising, as this group was the last to be invited for vaccination but are the first to travel or go to festivals or nightclubs.
In Enschede, at least 165 people became infected after a night out at the Aspen Vally nightclub. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old man in Amsterdam was told he’d tested negative for coronavirus before going on a night out with friends. The next morning he received a rather worrying phone call, letting him know he’d received the wrong results and was in fact positive.
Are the new coronavirus infections something to worry about?
Is the rising number of infections something to worry about? Gommers is confident there won’t be another lockdown, and other medical experts are confident that the vaccination programme means there won’t be a (significant) fourth wave after the summer. However, immunologist Dimitri Diavatopoulos says everyone will have to get used to living with COVID-19: “The goal is not zero infections. The goal is to prevent death and serious illness.”
While the experts aren’t calling for new measures or for another lockdown, many are calling for the existing rules to be enforced more harshly, asking young people to be sensible and not go to too many parties, and demanding that the CoronaCheck app doesn’t hand out Janssen vaccination certificates too quickly.
“You are only really well protected a month after your second shot (and first shot at Janssen),” explains epidemiologist Frits Rosendaal. “In the Netherlands, there are many people who have only had one shot - which also protects, but not enough. Those people are still at risk of infection.”